Thursday, July 11, 2013

Leftover Veggies: From Crudités to Veggie Sandwich

Here’s a clever and delicious way to use up leftover veggies from your raw veggie tray. And it’s healthy, too! A bit of jack cheese and walnuts add deliciousness, and soy sauce and Spike seasoning mix add the je ne sais quoi.

I made some recently, when Sue’s sister sent leftover veggies home with us after we’d been on a visit to Ohio. We were supposed to eat it in the car, but there was so much we still ended up with a bag of mixed-up miscellaneous crudités.

A variety of vegetables will do here, but the standard veggie-tray types work well: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery. For their texture and flavor, I’d be sure to include plenty of cauliflower, broccoli, or both.

Because this isn’t rocket science, I won’t give you rigid quantities. Just a list of ingredients with notes.

Veggie Salad Sandwich with Walnuts and Jack Cheese

First, schnittle up your veggies:

Broccoli and/or cauliflower, chopped into quarter- to half-inch pieces
Carrots, in large shreds or thin matchsticks
Celery, if you want, sliced thinly to reduce the effect of the strings

Do you want to use a food processor on the veggies? I’d use it with care—you won’t want it to become confetti, or mush. A sharp knife and a grater is what I use.

Then add the next three:

English walnuts, chopped into chunks in about the same size range as the broccoli
Monterey jack cheese, sliced and cut into little brick-shaped chunks about 1 inch long
Green onions, chopped

Then make a simple dressing from the following:

Mayonnaise (eggless is the vegan preference)
Soy sauce (or tamari), go easy on it; treat it like you would salt, because that’s its purpose here
Spike (ah, yes, our favorite spice blend/low-salt seasoning mix from way back! If yours is stale, time to get a new jar!)

Then mix it up; taste, and adjust however you want it.

This works well in a pita pocket sandwich, or as a filling for a wrap, or on a sandwich with bread stout enough to hold together. Today, I put it on ciabatta bread. You could also just put a mound of it onto a bed of lettuce, and serve with crackers.

I Give Credit for the Idea

Oh, so many years ago, when I was an undergraduate, I went with a friend to the National Women’s Music Festival, when it was held at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. For lunch a few of those days, I ventured to the nearby Bloomingfoods Coop—now it’s Bloomingfoods Market and Deli—at 419 E. Kirkwood. (Those wonderful old vegetarian coops and restaurants always used to be right next to university campuses. Anyone remember Columbia Community Grocery, next to the, Catalpa Tree Café, on Hitt and Locust?)

At Bloomingfoods in 1988, I remember picking through their cold case of premade sandwiches. Most of them, as I recall, were vegetarian pita pocket sandwiches—tofu salad and such-like. One day, I tried a “Samurai sandwich,” which had a chickpea-based, hummus-like filling with a Japanese twist (miso, sautéed onions, bell peppers), and (naturally . . .) alfalfa sprouts. (Maybe I’ll get around to sharing that one with you someday.) [Addendum, July 30, 2016: I did post my version of the samurai sandwich recipe! —You're welcome!]

But on this day—June 4, 1988—I selected something they called a “Bric-a-Broc Sandwich.” It was named for brick cheese and broccoli, two of the primary ingredients. As I sat in the grass eating it under a big old tree on the IU campus, I was a little let down—I thought the various ingredients would have kept their own identities a little better, but they were all chopped up so finely it seemed too homogenous. (Now I understand the logic of that: Crisp veggies like carrots need to be cut finely so they don’t tear through the pita bread, and so you don’t spend the rest of the afternoon chewing!)

But I’m glad I jotted down the ingredients in my journal, as they were printed on the little adhesive label sealing the plastic wrapping: broccoli, carrots, brick cheese, onions, Spike, walnuts, tamari, eggless mayo (and the pita bread—some whole-wheat healthy stuff).

I’ve made this salad mixture occasionally since then, and I’ve always been surprised at how tasty it is, and easy to make. In the Bloomingfoods version, broccoli was abundant, carrots less so (in matchsticks, as I recall—or thick shreds). I think the onions were chopped white or yellow, but I prefer the green onions I suggest above. Tamari, by the way, was a mystery to me at the time. Seriously, you can use soy sauce, which is its close cousin. Spike I did know about, because I had so many friends who were concocting recipes like “Tofu and Spike”! (We can laugh at that today!)

I actually miss the days when sandwiches at the health food store were simpler and cheaper (the health food now seems overstimulating, ostentatious, by comparison), and I’m glad I took notes on some of them (I already told you about the tofu salad sandwich recipe I got from one of Columbia’s venerable health-food stores). Today, I wish I had the recipes for the famous nutburgers of Gentle Strength Cooperative in Tempe, Arizona; though I think I could “wing” the cashew-tuna salad sandwich, which was another favorite from that store.