The California Sandwich

the california sandwich (1)

Besides the perfect weather, striking landscapes, and culture of positivity and innovation, one of the best things about being a Californian is the food. Whenever I travel to another state I am reminded of how spoiled I am to live in this land of  plenty, and how much I depend on it. My husband and I are leaving on a 3 week road trip in a few days to travel the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We are going to drive up the coast of California, through Oregon to Portland, maybe even up into Washington, then through Idaho to Wyoming, visiting Yellowstone National Park, then Utah and down to Arizona and the Grand Canyon, and back through Nevada and home again. Then we will catch a flight to Kauai for another week. One whole month on the road with as many national parks and waterfalls as we can find! We will camp and back pack through the mainland, then do Airbnb rentals in Hawaii. It is going to be an amazing month! I can’t wait to see the beauty our country has to offer.
Having said that, I know that life on the road means lots of camping food like trail mix and canned beans. We are trying to do the whole trip on the cheap. So with a few days left before we depart, I wanted to treat myself to the bounty that Los Angeles and California has to offer, which is when I came up with the California Sandwich.


California cuisine is diverse and covers everything from barbecue to fine french fusion, but there are some common themes that have emerged over the last 20 years or so. Being one of the main sources of produce for the whole country, California cuisine is foremost fresh and vegetable-centric. The emphasis on local, seasonal fruits and vegetables harmonizes perfectly with our liberal-leaning, health-conscious demand for organic and sustainable food. We love to take casual foods like burgers, pizza, and sandwiches and turn them into gourmet delicacies that surprise and excite the senses. We love to ‘fancify’ the little details of a dish to make them cool and new. We also love to nail the presentation, we’re vain like that. And, our on-the-go culture is the perfect place for hand-held food to be eaten on the road, on a hike, and generally outside under the sun. This sandwich is my personal interpretation of all those things.
Starting with locally baked La Brea Bakery ciabatta and topped with seasonal California grown veggies, I notched it up with unusually gourmet details like the garlic-basil mayo, added local touches like a splash of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and of course the star of the show is the California Hass avocado. I just so happened to have some California State Golden Poppy toothpicks to top it off and I highly recommend eating this creation poolside and under the sun! I hope you’ll try it and get a taste of the golden state for yourself! Peace out dudes.


The California Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches

1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced into 2 loafs, each with a top and bottom

2 tbs vegan mayo (I like Hampton Creek’s ‘Just Mayo’, a San Francisco based innovator!)

2 cloves of garlic, minced or put through a garlic press

2 big basil leaves, minced (I used some from my own garden)

1 tbs olive oil

2 shallots, finely sliced

a splash of white wine

a dash of salt

2 big leaves of romaine, finely shredded

1 hass avocado, very thinly sliced

1 big tomato, very thinly sliced

a drizzle of balsamic reduction (I got this already made in a squeeze bottle at the grocery store but you can easily make it yourself by heating up some balsamic vinegar over low heat on the stove until it becomes thick and sticky.)

More salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Start by toasting the bread or even better, throw it on a hot outdoor grill for a few minutes until it’s toasty. Set aside.

Combine the mayo, garlic and basil in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over low heat and add the shallots. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the splash of white wine to deglaze the pan and add the salt. Cook another 5 minutes or so, stirring to prevent burning. You want to cook them until nice and golden.

I split all the ingredients in half to make two sandwiches. (I ate both, that’s right!) When ready to assemble, start with the bottom half of the bread and slather with the mayo mixture. Sprinkle on the caramelized onions. Then, add the romaine lettuce. Top the lettuce with the avocado slices, then the tomato slices. Finally, finish with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and some final salt and pepper before topping with the other half of bread. You’ll notice we are alternating ‘sticky’ and ‘wet’ layers, so it all holds together better. To see a cool timelapse video of the sandwich assembly, check out my instagram post

And there it is! A taste of the golden state before your very eyes. I hope you like it as much as I do!

For similar recipes, check out my beloved bruschetta or BLT!

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Open Faced Sandwich Duo: ‘Egg’ Salad and Vegan ‘BLAT’

sandwich duo

I had a craving for some old fashioned sandwiches, something I hadn’t had in a really long time. I took two favorites from before, egg salad and BLTs, and veganized them into pure heaven! I like open-faced because I feel like there isn’t a whole lot of point to the bread in a sandwich, I mean it is the vehicle, and adds a vital texture of it’s own, but it can be over powering and not quite as visually appealing as a nice big open-faced sandwich.

I had been trying to figure out what I would do for the ‘bacon’ in the blt, and then magically, my roommate brought home this homemade sweet mesquite seasoning from his mom, perfect! I think a store bought mesquite seasoning would work just fine as well. P.S., I went the whole nine yards and made the BLT into a  BLAT, oh yeah.

egg salad sandwich

‘Egg’ Salad Sandwich

makes about 2 sandwiches

6 ounces extra firm tofu (I like sprouted organic)

2 tbs veganaise

1.5 tbs dijon mustard

1 tsp yellow mustard

1 tsp turmeric

1 sprinkle of garlic powder

2 green onions (or chives)

1 Tbs very finely minced red bell pepper

a tiny pinch a curry powder

salt and pepper to taste

2 slices of toasted rye bread

A little more veganaise for slathering on bread

greens of your choice (I went with microgreens)

1 sprig of dill, minced

sprinkle of smoked paprika

Press the water out of the tofu and chop finely, like a 1/4″ dice. In a medium bowl add all the ingredients from the veganaise to the salt and pepper, and stir to combine, then stir in the tofu and toss to coat completely. The tofu will crumble a little further in this process and that’s fine. Set Aside. After toasting your bread, slather with a little more veganaise and sprinkle on the dill and microgreens. Next spoon the ‘egg’ salad on top in big heaps, and sprinkle with a dusting of paprika. Perfection!!

BLAT Sandwich

Vegan BLAT Sandwich

makes about 2 sandwiches

1/3 c Coconut Chips (Seen them at Trader Joe’s and Ralphs for you Californians)

1 tsp mesquite seasoning

1 tbs maple syrup

1/2 tsp paprika (for color)

3 tbs veganaise

3 basil leaves

2 slices toasted sourdough bread

2 big romaine leaves, stems removed

6 slices avocado

3 plum tomatoes

Preheat the oven to broil. In a small bowl, combine the coconut chips, mesquite seasoning, maple syrup and paprika, and stir to coat. Put this on a foil lined pan and put under the broiler for about 1 minute. Give it a stir and put it back in for one minute. You want it to get piping hot and the maple syrup sort of carmelized, but don’t let it burn! Meanw

hile, finely mince the basil and stir it into the veganaise. Slather this onto your sourdough bread. Rip the romaine into small pieces and put on top of your basil mayo. Next, put three slices of avocado per sandwich, and smush them down a bit, this really holds things together. Then, thinly slice the tomatoes and lay them on top, and top that off with your crumbly hot ‘bacon’.

It’s sandwich party time!