Spring in the Sierra is time for a light lunch or dinner that allows more time to work and play, thanks to Daylight Saving Time. An easy but flavorful quick meal can be a hot and hearty tuna fish sandwich chock-full of fresh vegetables, fresh bread, and a potpourri of other stuff to spell flavor. This is the type of sandwich to serve and savor in the 21st century.
As a kid growing up in the 1950s, I recall lunches at day care. One day we were served a cold chopped pink mystery meat sandwich (I later learned it was deviled ham spread) on flat, nondescript white bread. It was cut into two rectangles paired with a bowl of canned warm green pea soup. An over ripe apple (it was fuzzy) was the dessert. I made up my mind not to touch one bite of the food. I went on my first hunger strike. The cook-sitter protested. She made me sit at the kitchen table with my food until I ate it. I did not give in. Hours passed. Finally, I was rescued from the stand-off late in the afternoon when my mother arrived.
This week I craved a gourmet tuna sandwich made with TLC. And that is when I recalled the nightmare sandwich from yesteryear. With a bit of time, I whipped up a hot delight for a cold spring afternoon that I would have loved to eat as a child and did savor as an adult in the 21st century. Times have changed. Fresh vegetables, herbs, and fish are healthier and taste better than canned meat, blah bread, and soup in a can.
And dessert doesn’t have to be fruit at its worst. Dressing up an apple with good-for-you nuts, healthy honey, and a bit of a sugary treat is a taste of deliciousness. These apples, found year-round (even around the Lake) are on-a-stick and the caramel is often hard. Making it at home, adding a few ingredients to the caramel, and slicing apples make it softer for kids and adults.
European-style Toasted Tuna Sandwich
1 (6-ounce can albacore tuna, drained and flaked)
2 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise dressing
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon herbs (your choice) fresh preferably
¼ cup tomatoes, chopped
2 slices jarlsberg cheese
1/2 cup lettuce, chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil and red vinegar mixture (for lettuce)
2 sourdough sandwich French rolls
1 teaspoon European style butter
Mix all ingredients (except tomatoes, cheese, butter, olive oil, vinegar and lettuce) together. Spread butter on rolls, toast in a 450 degree oven. Remove and top with tuna mixture, tomatoes, and cheese. Place face side up in oven until the tops are toasted. Fold and slice in half. Put lettuce tossed with olive oil and vinegar on side of sandwich (or serve on top). Serves 2.
Caramel Honey Apples
20 caramels, unwrapped
2 tablespoons raw honey
3 tablespoons organic half-and-half
2 apples, Fuji or Granny Smith
½ cup pecans, chopped fine or leave in chunks
Place caramels in a bowl and heat in the microwave until melted. Add honey and half-and-half. Put back into the microwave until melted. Roll apples in caramel mixture. Then roll caramel apple into nuts. Place apples on a plate and put in fridge for about an hour or till firm. Cut apple into slices. Serves two.
While I order cheese and veggie sandwiches at Tahoe, the picky non-meat eating child in me rebels when it comes to ordering other ingredients. It felt good to put together a fish tuna melt sandwich (of sorts) and dessert that is fun and nutritious to eat. These days, there’s no excuse to make or serve food that doesn’t taste good. The touch of earthy eats and a bit of sweet creativity can put a smile on a face (at any age).
Motto: Put your heart into your food and feed your body and spirit to create good memories, good eating.
Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. Her website is www.calorey.com.