Category Archives: Sandwiches

Tofu Nut Spinach Burgers

This week’s Food Matters Project recipe was spinach tofu burgers, chosen by the adorable vegetarian food blogging couple, Matt and Claire of It’s Not About the Recipe.  I love veggie burgers and welcome the opportunity to try a new version and this one was definitely new to me, having never made veggie burgers with tofu.  Bittman’s version has asian inpired seasonings and being that I get a little bored with asian seasonings always accompanying tofu, I wanted to mix things up a little.  A while back I spotted some tofu burgers on 101 Cookbooks, a blog I have a major crush on.  I’ve been wanting to try her version so combined elements of both to create the tofu nut spinach burgers you see here.

Having now tried them, the verdict is that these were quite good but really rely heavily on the seasonings.  While I was happy with them, there was an umami element that I felt was missing and I kept thinking that next time, I’m going to add a bunch of sauteed onions to the mix along with some crumbled feta and that will take it to exactly where these need to be for me in terms of flavor.  The texture was great and a welcome change and these were easy, peasy, pumpkin pie to make.  Just throw everything into the food processor, give it a whirl, make patties, cook ’em up.  Done.  Easy.

I served mine open-faced with havarti, tomato pesto (store-bought), avocado, sauteed red onion, arugula and a little slather of my tofu mayo from last week.  Experiment with whatever toppings you like and enjoy adding this new burger to your repertoire…it’s worth keeping around.

Tofu Nut Spinach Burgers; modified mostly from 101 Cookbooks and a little bit from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Project Cookbook

Makes 10

  • 5 oz of baby spinach or frozen spinach (if you use frozen, drain and pat)
  • 1 pound / 16 oz extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry, then sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup fine dried bread crumbs or panko
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon shoyu or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

extras: whatever buns & condiments you like. I had mine open faced with grilled onions, tomato pesto (from a fancy food store), havarti, avocado, and arugula.

Give the spinach a few whirls in the food processor until chopped up.  Put spinach in a bowl and set aside.

Place all the remaining ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture comes together and is free of most chunks, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor once or twice if needed. If it seems a bit thin to you, add more bread crumbs a small handful at a time until everything comes together.  Mix spinach back in with a spoon (I do this so the mix doesn’t become green but rather has flecks of spinach in it).

Divide the mixture into eight equal portions and use your hands to (really) press and form into round but flat-ish patties.

Pour the olive oil into your largest skillet over medium-high heat, and arrange as many patties as you can without crowding. Cover, and cook turning once, until deeply browned on both sides. Roughly ten minutes. You want to make sure the middle of the patties cook through. If the pan is too hot you’ll burn the outsides before the middle cooks up, so be mindful of that.

Serve with your favorite burger fixings.

Makes ten tofu burgers.

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Bruschetta with Pistachio Goat Cheese, Apricot, and Honey

Take two on the pistachio goat cheese.  I made this delicious spread a week ago and served it on top of roasted beet and sweet potato medallions.  I was so enamored that I wanted to try it again, on a different platform.  Enter bruschetta.  I’ve discussed this before, but bruschetta is simply toasted or grilled bread drizzled with olive oil.  You can top it with anything you see fit.  This weekend I topped it with pistachio goat cheese, apricots, and honey.

Bruschetta with Pistachio Goat Cheese, Apricot, and Honey

  • 1/2 loaf of french bread, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • olive oil in a bottle for drizzling
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 2 apricots, pit removed and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  1. Combine the goat cheese and pistachios in a food processor. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and, with the machine running, drizzle in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. If the mixture doesn’t come together, add more oil until the filling is smooth and fluffy. Taste and adjust with seasoning, then cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the bruschetta.
  2. Heat a grill or a broiler.  Drizzle slices of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on grill or under broiler until just toasted.  Turn, and toast second side.  Remove from oven.
  3. Transfer the goat cheese mixture to a pastry bag or a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off (or you can just use a teaspoon for this). Squeeze or spoon dabs of the filling onto the bruschetta.  Repeat until either the bruschetta or the filling runs out, top with two slices of apricot per toast and a light drizzle of honey, then serve straight away.

Updated Tea Sandwiches With Chilled Avocado-Radish-Basil Soup

This week was my week to host the Food Matters Project and I picked what I figured I would want to make the first few days of July.  Knowing me, I would be eating lots of cucumbers on toast and crackers around this time of the summer.  Knowing me, I wouldn’t want to fire up the stove.  What I didn’t know was that I would be escaping the dry, 95 degree weather in Grand Rapids for a beautiful, breezy weekend in northern lower Michigan…foodie heaven.  For more on all of the wonderful foods and sights I took in this weekend, see my next post!

In my rush to leave my house to enjoy this incredible weekend, I left with very few ingredients for the tea sandwiches.  I packed fresh shelled peas, white and red radishes, English cucumbers, arugula, sunflower sprouts, butter, and bread.  The result was a far cry from the creative updated sandwiches in Bittman’s book but still made for a simple and delicious lunch alongside a nice chilled avocado-radish and basil soup.  Thanks to Meryl and her family for joining me on my culinary adventure and being such gracious taste-testers!  See below for several tea sandwich recipes from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook, for what I did to create my sandwiches, for my update on the updated tea sandwiches (made the radish-walnut sandwiches for lunch after posting this!) and for the avocado-radish-basil soup that my sandwiches were served with.

Aura’s Open Faced Tea Sandwiches

For my tea sandwiches, I spread salted butter on several slices of light wheat toast made by a local bakery (turned out it was a little dry but what do you do!).  I lightly steamed about 1 cup of peas and mashed them with 1 Tbsp butter and 1/2 minced clove of garlic.  I thinly, thinly sliced 2 English cucumbers and 4 radishes.  Next, I assembled! Some slices of bread got spread with garlicky peas and then topped with radishes or cucumber.  Some were dressed plainly with butter then radishes or cucumber.  However you want to make these guys is great–just make any combination of cucumbers, radishes, basil, arugula, sunflower sprouts, peas….you are the artist!

Avocado, Radish, and Basil Soup; From Martha Stewart Living, July 2012

Scoop flesh from 2 chilled avocados (7 to 8 oz each) and puree with 3 cups cold water, 1 and ½ tsp. coarse salt, and 1 and ½ cups basil leaves in a blender until smooth.  Add 3 trimmed large radishes, and pulse until chunky, about 4 times.  Season with freshly ground black pepper.  Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.  Stir well, and garnish with julienned radish and basil leaves before serving.  Serves 5.

Above:  open faced radish walnut tea sandwiches–recipe below

Updated Tea Sandwiches; from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook

Tea sandwiches may be old-fashioned, but they’re easy to modernize and not at all gimmicky.  (The classic is plain cucumber and butter—you don’t get much less gimmicky than that.)  Consider these as a springboard to your own combinations. 

In general, the bread is fine-crumbed and sliced thin, the fillings are fresh, and there is little or no lag between making and serving.  All of this makes homemade whole wheat sandwich bread perfect, but really any loaf with a dense texture, relatively soft crust, and fine crumb is good.

Seasonal vegetables are almost universally well suited for small sandwiches—even leftover roasted or grilled vegetables or salads.  Just make sure the ingredients are drained of any dressing or marinade and chopped up a bit, which makes the sandwiches easier to cut and eat.

You can, of course, add a little cheese or meat to many tea sandwiches.  Try blending crumbled feta or blue cheese or grated Parmesan in with the pesto-like spreads.  Or before closing the sandwiches, sprinkle the fillings with crumbled bacon or add a thin shard of prosciutto, roast beef or pork, or shredded grilled chicken.

Cucumber-Wasabi Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  10 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon wasabi powder, or more to taste
  • 8 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably whole wheat
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped watercress
  • Salt and black pepper

Combine the mayonnaise and wasabi in a small bowl.  Spread a thin layer of this mixture on each of the bread slices.  Top half the bread slices with the cucumber and watercress.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, close the sandwiches, cut each into quarters on the diagonal, and serve.

Gingered Pea Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  10 minutes

  • 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter or olive oil, or more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 8 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably whole wheat

Mash the peas with the butter or oil and ginger until the mixture is pasty but not smooth; add a little more butter or oil if necessary to make the peas spreadable.  (You can make the filling ahead to this point, cover, and refrigerate for up to a day; return to room temperature before proceeding.)  Add the mint and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  1. Smear about ¼ cup of the filling on 4 of the bread slices and top to make sandwiches.  Cut each into quarters on the diagonal and serve.

Pumpkin-Apple Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  10 minutes with cooked or canned pumpkin

  • ½ cup mashed or pureed cooked pumpkin or winter squash (good quality canned is okay)
  • 2 green apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 8 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably multigrain
  • ½ teaspoon coriander or cinnamon
  • Salt and black pepper

Spread a thin layer of the pumpkin or squash on each of the bread slices.  Top half the bread slices with the apple.  Season with the spice and a little salt and pepper, close the sandwiches, cut each into quarters on the diagonal, and serve.

Egg and Olive Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  10 minutes with already cooked eggs

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup good quality green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 8 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably whole wheat
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Combine the mayonnaise, olives, and spinach in a small bowl.  Spread a thin layer of the mixture on half of the bread slices; smear the rest of the slices with the mustard.
  2. Put the hard-boiled egg on top of the mustard, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and close the sandwiches, pressing down slightly to seal.  Cut each sandwich into quarters on the diagonal and serve.

Radish-Walnut Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  20 minutes

  • ½ pound radishes
  • 1 cup arugula
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 8 thin slices bread, preferably whole wheat baguette
  1. Pulse the radishes in a food processor until they’re chopped up a bit but not pureed; remove, scraping what you can out of the bowl.
  2. Combine the arugula, walnuts, and orange zest in the processor and, with the machine on, drizzle in the oil, adding enough to make a paste.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Spread a thin layer of the walnut mixture on each of the bread slices.  Top half the slices with the radishes, close the sandwiches, cut each into small sandwiches on the diagonal (or into quarters if you are using sandwich bread), and serve.

The Simplest Bean Burgers

Another good one from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.  I’m on a real roll with him.  Before that it was Donna Hay–I’ll try to post some Donna Hay gems up here soon.  Her cookbooks are amazing!  Sorry no photo on this one.  I ate it before I could take a photo!  I froze the rest so the next time I have one I’ll try to post the photo.

The Simplest Bean Burgers; makes 4 to 6

  • 2 cups well-cooked white, black, or red beans or chickpeas or lentils, or one 14-ounce can, drained.
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (preferably not instant)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder or spice mix of your choice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Bean cooking liquid, stock, or other liquid (cream, milk, water, ketchup, etc.) if necessary
  • Extra virgin olive oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, as needed
  1. Combine the beans, onion, oats, chili powder, salt, pepper, and egg in a food processor and pulse until chunky but not pureed, adding a little liquid if necessary (this is unlikely but not impossible) to produce a moist but not wet mixture.  Let the mixture rest for a few minutes if time allows.
  2. With wet hands, shape into whatever size patties you want and again let rest for a few minutes if time allows.  (You can make the burger mixture or even shape the burgers up to a day or so in advance.  Just cover tightly and refrigerate, then bring everything back to room temperature before cooking.)  Film the bottom of a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet with oil and turn the heat to medium.  A minute later, add the patties.  Cook until nicely browned on one side, about 5 minutes; turn carefully and cook on the other side until firm and browned.
  3. Serve on plates with any accompaniments you wish or on buns with the usual burger fixings.  Or cool and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

AURA’S NOTES:  I added some leftover potatoes and some finely diced carrots to mine for some more veggie power.  Think twice before adding liquid to the mixture.  I think adding a bit to mine made them a little too moist but some cooking time helped fix that.  I cooked half of mine in a skillet and half in the oven on about 350 degrees.  Both were equally good.

Tempeh Reuben

I pulled this recipe from “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone,”  by Deborah Madison.  I have made tempeh reuben’s countless times since I first had one at the Alex Rock Cafe (short-lived) in East Town but this was the first time I used a recipe for a tempeh sandwich.  I ran across this one in Deborah Madison’s book; the tempeh was braised so I thought I’d try something new.  Tempeh is not for everyone but if you like it or want to try it and don’t know what to do with it, this is my favorite way to eat it!  Serve this sandwich with Thousand Island Dressing to make it into a reuben.  Serve it with some quick vinegary cabbage and carrot slaw and some baked beans if you really want to go all out.

Tempeh on Rye; makes 3 sandwiches

  • 1 package tempeh
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt and freshly milled pepper
  • 6 slices rye bread
  • 3 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained and warmed
  • Prepared horseradish and mustard
  1. Cut the tempeh crosswise in half, then cut each half piece into 3 very thin slabs.  In a skillet wide enough to hold the tempeh in a single layer–though this isn’t absolutely crucial–heat the garlic and oil over medium heat until the garlic begins to color.  Add the tempeh pieces and turn them once to coat them with the oil, then add the paprika, dill, caraway, bay, vinegar, and soy sauce.  Season with pepper to taste.  Add water to cover and simmer until the water has reduced to a glaze, about 20 minutes.  (If it cooks down sooner, add more water as needed.)  Allow the tempeh to fry for several minutes in the oil that remains in the pan, turning it a few times.  Taste a corner, then season with salt, if needed, and more pepper.
  2. Toast the bread.  Lay the cheese on 3 slices and broil until it begins to melt.  Add the tempeh and sauerkraut.  Cover the rest of the bread with horseradish and mustard, cover the sandwiches, and serve.

DEBORAH MADISON’S NOTES ON TEMPEH:  Braising tempeh in its seasoning, then letting it brown in the remaining oil improves its flavor and is more effective than marinating it.  Even if you are not a fan of meat pretenders, this robust sandwich is hefty and satisfying and tastes good in its own right.

MARK BITTMAN’S NOTES ON TEMPEH:  Tempeh (pronounced tem-pay), which originated in Indonesia several hundred years ago, is relatively new to America.  Like soy sauce, miso, and vinegar, tempeh is fermented, with a complex yeasty flavor and a high umami quotient; think of mushrooms, strong cheese, or hearty bread.  Like blue cheese, tempeh is “inoculated” with an edible mold, so it looks pretty wild:  an ugly, lumpy, compressed cake of beans (and sometimes grains), usually less than an inch thick.  It’s more of an acquired taste than many foods, but if you make Crunch Crumbled Tempeh (page 674 of “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”), my guess is you’ll be fond of it pretty quickly.  Tempeh is very high in protein, up to 19 percent by weight, which means about 15 grams in a 1/2 cup serving–just about all you really need on many days.  Unlike tofu, tempeh is a whole soybean food, so it’s also relatively high in fiber and all the nutrients found in whole soybeans, including B vitamins and many amino acids.

AURA’S NOTES ON TEMPEH:  You can find tempeh at Meijer and D&W stores–they usually carry the “LightLife” brand.  But if you are going to make this sandwich and really give tempeh a shot, I’d make the trip to Harvest Health on Eastern and Burton to buy the “West Soy” brand, which used to be “White Wave”.  It is much, much better!  If you don’t want to go through the whole process of braising for this sandwich, just fry the tempeh in a little oil and splash some tamari soy sauce on it at the end of cooking.  Just as good and your house won’t smell like vinegar!