I’m a big believer in the school of thought that says bread just isn’t worth it unless it’s good. (I’m not sure if a school of thought saying that really exists, but if it doesn’t, I will volunteer to be the founder and spiritual leader.) I’ll deal with Wonder Bread-style slices for a PB&J on occasion, but after that, I draw the line.
That said, I’ll go out of my way for a good loaf of bread. For the past few months, I’ve been obsessed with Trader Joe’s six-grain bread with pumpkin seeds, and I really do make the extra stop to pick it up rather than settle for whatever I can grab at Giant. I’ve tried other varieties and keep going back to this one. It’s thick, grainy and slightly sweet. Toast it for a few minutes and spread a little butter on top and it will literally melt in your mouth.
It’s also great for sandwiches. There are two sandwiches that I routinely have for lunches at work–they’re easy and delicious, but they’re definitely centered around the good bread. So make sure you’ve got the quality base to work with and the rest of the sandwich will just fall together.
Balsalmic veggie and hummus sandwich
Bonus: This smells so good that everyone will be jealous as you heat it up at the office.
Ingredients (makes enough for 2 sandwiches):
Prep time: 30 minutes the night before, 5 minutes at lunchtime
2 cups assorted raw vegetables, sliced thin (I usually use zucchini, summer squash, eggplant and onions, but feel free to get creative on this one)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp hummus
4 slices good bread
1. The night before, prepare the vegetables. Combine the sliced vegetables in a large bowl with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix together until coated evenly.
2. Cover a small baking sheet with tin foil and spread the vegetables over the pan. Don’t pile them too high or the ones underneath won’t cook.
3. Preheat the broiler. I usually use the toaster oven for this because it’s just faster to preheat.
4. Put the vegetables under the broiler. Time will vary depending on how many are in there and how thinly you sliced it, but stir them around a couple of times during the cooking process to make sure the ones underneath get some heat, too. Keep a close eye on them–I have burnt these many a time because I’ve left the kitchen and then gotten distracted. It helps to set a timer and then just add more time as needed.
5. Once all the vegetables are softened, remove from heat and throw them in a container to keep in the fridge overnight.
6. At lunchtime, heat up the vegetables and toast the bread.
7. Spread the hummus over the bread and pile the veggies on top.
Note: This sandwich can also be made with goat cheese instead of hummus and the result is just as good.
Avocado and white bean tomato sandwich
This one gets some weird looks in the kitchen as you make it, but it’s good enough that you’ll barely notice. This sandwich was adapted from a recipe in Health magazine.
Ingredients (makes enough for one sandwich):
1/2 cup canned white beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper, to taste
2 slices good bread
1. Mash together the avocado and white beans until they form a sort of chunky spread. Stir in salt and pepper little by little, tasting along the way to make sure you don’t overdo it.
2. Toast the bread.
3. Spread the avocado and bean mixture over the bread. Layer the slices of tomato on top.