Thanks to the fantastic cookbooks (this one and this one) I got for Christmas, my brain is in a constant state of fantasy food enthusiasm, which is to say, I’m reading recipes like most people read the newspaper. So I was going to make something spectacular and post about it (And I will, truly. These cookbooks have a siren call)…but then writing happened. Which is always a nice thing to be able to say. I got distracted by writing. Usually–95% of the time–it’s the other way around. So today, after happily sitting at my computer for a few thousand words, I stumbled into the kitchen for something that would resemble lunch and realised I had all the ingredients for my favourite sandwich. The best sandwich in my world. I won’t say the world because I don’t think sandwich greatness works like that (or any greatness, really), but it has reigned as the number one sandwich choice in my life, assuming all requisite parts are on hand, for many years. I think it’s time to canonize it for all time. (Actually, that concept is very appealing, barring the must-be-deceased part: I very much think this should be my patron saint of sandwiches.)
(Ria’s) Best Avocado Sandwich
I’m going to break it down into its ingredients because this sandwich (or samooch, as Little e calls them, which seems like a much better name–half sandwich, half smooch), is the kind of simple that needs to be honoured for all its requisite parts.
1. The bread. I’m not going to beat about the bush here: whole grain, seedy bread would be far healthier, but it has no place in this sandwich. Trust me. But if you much prefer that kind, go for it–just expect a different experience. I want the kind of blank canvas a white bread offers, but it must not be plain old sliced bread. A crusty baguette works, or ciabatta, but something with texture and crunch, whatever you choose.
2. Avocado. I recently had a conversation with my sister about the perfectness of avocados (it was more of a mutual worship-fest than a conversation, but who’s checking) and we both agreed it is the ultimate food. Good fats, good taste, good portability, gorgeous colour–find me something to rival it, I dare you. My sister told me a friend of hers worked on an avocado farm in New Zealand (my response: WHAT? They have avocado farms in New Zealand? That raises its cool-factor by awesome percent!) and that they would pick ripe avos off the trees for breakfast and eat them out of the shell with a sprinkle of salt. This is also called heaven, right? So anyway, the avocado is really important in this sandwich; it’s kind of part butter (though I put that on the bread too because: butter), part cheese–the soft, fatty kind of cheese that isn’t the sharp, salty feta that will adorn the sandwich next. So this avocado is playing a few roles here. It’s hardworking. It’s glorious.
3. Feta. I use cow feta, but if goat is what you love or have in the fridge, I’d imagine it would be fine. I slice thin pieces of feta on top of the sliced or mashed avocado because I’ve made the mistake of crumbling it on and finding half the cheese on my plate afterward. The feta is essential here because, as we’ve said, avocado is fatty and buttery, and it needs an acid to balance it. It also, in my opinion, needs salt, so these two go together happily.
4. Cucumber. I like (what is called in Canada) the English kind, which doesn’t have big seeds. Sometimes skin on, sometimes off, depending on my mood and the proximity of my peeler. This is the crunch/juice layer. Both the cheese and avocado need a crisp contrast, and the grassy-fruity cucumber provides it.
5. Vinegar. I was going to say “dressing”, which I’ve also used if I have it–a good balsamic salad dressing–but today I only had straight-up balsamic vinegar. It doesn’t spread as nicely, but the powerful, almost malty acid, untamed by the olive oil in a dressing, is what I like. So a few decent drops of that on the cucumber and we’re ready to lid this baby.
It’s not the most beautiful sandwich, to be sure. One could add roasted red pepper or eggplant for a pop of colour, or baby arugula for spice and the virtue of greens, but that would be a different sandwich, the kind I’ve had in numerous lunch joints and loved, but not this sandwich. No fiddling allowed. It also goes well with a glass of Italian soda (I have orange cardamom from here on repeat at the moment).
And now the fun part: What is your favourite sandwich? Do tell in comments! It’s like getting a peek into other people’s houses. Yes, I’m one of those people. And a writer after all…