(Holy Cow. It’s National Sandwich Day?! Weirdest coincidence ever. I did not plan this. )
Back during our totally fabulous honeymoon, my man and I stopped in at the illustrious Tartine Bakery in San Francisco to sample their world of baked goods. I know you’re probably wondering what a girl like me could possibly find to eat in a place like that, but let’s keep in mind that I was on vacation and for “research purposes” I will try almost anything.
Needless to say, that was not my last visit to Tartine. In fact, the day my sweet left to go back to Denmark I was feeling so low that I took myself to the bakery again for a lonely lunch to console myself with a gigantic calorie bomb. Yes. Great decision.
I don’t know if I have ever mentioned it, but I am mildly obsessed with sandwiches. Finding the perfect combination of ingredients I regard as somewhat of an art form and huge respect goes out to those that can instinctively unite seemingly disparate elements between two slices of bread and make magic. At Tartine, they’ve done it. Their sandwich creations are surprising despite their simplicity, as they allow their extremely high-quality ingredients shine by standing on their own. I fell hard for the Pecorino: almond, sage, and lemon, crushed together, with fine shavings of sheep’s milk cheese on the best bread EVER (not exaggerating), slathered in olive oil and grilled to a criminal level of perfection. Gasp. So delightful in its unfussiness.
However, while sitting there feeling my mood increase with every gooey bite, I realized that this “perfect” sandwich could actually use a few things. First, those raw almonds were tasty, but I knew that they would be even better sprouted; a hint of sweetness was definitely necessary to offset the saltiness of the Pecorino Romano and for heaven’s sake, where were the greens?! I polished off half the sandwich sensation and went on my merry way to ponder how it could get better.
DIY: The High-Vibe Makeover
It’s easy to high-vibe almost anything you make in the kitchen. It really just involves taking each element of the food you like, and finding a healthier alternative. This simple process takes a dish that is more empty calories than not, and turns it into something conscious and health-supportive. And this basically means you can eat more. Yay.
Here’s how I planned to one-up this already awesome sandwich:
#1 – Sprout the almonds. This process liberates all of the vital nutrition in the nut while making them easier to digest. Learn more here.
#2 – Add vegetables. I decided that the peppery-ness of arugula would be the perfect flavour accompaniment, and I love the crunchiness of good greens. Not to mention all those vitamins!
#3 – Add a superfood. Raw honey is was the obvious choice here because it is like a magical vitamin supplement and it conveniently contrasts the saltiness of the cheese.
#4 – Up the fiber. Sticking with the sourdough theme I chose a multi-grain version that still had that distinctive tang, but without all that nutritionally-void white flour.
Done. On we go.
Sprouted Almond Pesto
1 cup soaked almonds (or blanched, see tips below, or raw)
zest of one organic, un-waxed lemon
juice of ½ lemon
a dozen fresh sage leaves
pinch of sea salt
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1. Soak the almonds overnight, or for 8 hours, and remove the skin.
2. Place almonds in a food processor with remaining ingredients and pulse until desired consistency is reached. The one at Tartine was very chunky; I made mine a tad finer.
Tip: If you want to make this sandwich immediately (I understand), you can skip the sprouting process and just blanche the almonds to remove their skin. Pour boiling water over them in a pot and setting it aside for about a minute. Drain off the water, fill the container with cold water and slip the skins off by squeezing the almonds between your thumb and fingers.
Removing the skins is an important step in ridding the almonds of the enzymes that make them difficult to digest.
You can also forgo this process altogether too. Use raw almonds if you like.
The almond pesto tastes pretty good on its own, but really nothing compares to it rubbing up against good Pecorino and the like. You can try it on toast with honey for a savory/sweet breakfast treat, and I bet it would be a really tasty topping for a cozy winter stew.
Best Sandwich Ever
Sprouted Almond Pesto
Pecorino Romano (sheep’s milk cheese, available at most grocery stores)
very good multi-grain sourdough
organic, raw honey
1. Heat up your Panini press. If you don’t have one, use a cast-iron grill pan, a regular pan, or a toaster oven.
2. Cut bread into generous slices, slather with chunky almond pesto, layer on some thin slices of cheese. Drizzle (or in my case, pour) olive oil all over both sides of the sandwich.
3. Cook as you would a grilled cheese sandwich or Panini, flipping when necessary.
4. When you decide the sandwich is ready, remove from the pan, open the sandwich, toss in a handful of arugula, and drizzle with honey (I like my honey poured all over the outside. This makes eating way messier and way sexier!)
Just to set the record straight, I have all kinds of love for Tartine. But I also have all kinds of love for myself and I what I put into my body. The fun part of giving your favorite foods a high-vibe makeover is that you can eat those ridiculously delicious foods and still get some sort of benefit from them. And isn’t it nice to know that you’re just a few simple tweaks away form that deep-fried Mars bar? Right.