Veggie melt sandwich with crushed avocado, handcrushed pesto, melted cheese, grated carrots, tomato, baby kale, and sprouts, aka the most Californian sandwich that ever existed. This is inspired by a sandwich I used to get at Cafe Literati in Los Angeles before they stopped making it. It was served with homemade potato chips on the side. I eat it with Kettle unsalted chips or purple heirloom chips.
This would be perfect in a panini press. I don’t have one, so the instructions are for making it in a toaster oven. Since the vegetables don’t need to be warmed, I split up which ingredients I heat up. But I do have the other ingredients ready so I can compile the sandwich quickly and enjoy it warm. If you have a panini press, compile the whole sandwich before pressing.
For those on low-sodium diets, my recipe for low-sodium bread yields about 3 normal-sized loaves. I’ve been working on a recipe that yields exactly one loaf but just using 1/3 of the ingredients from the recipe I posted doesn’t work as well as I expected, and neither does doubling pizza dough recipe so I’m still perfecting it. Pictured here is a trial of a light whole wheat bread with added sesame seeds. This picky eater thinks it came out a bit dense.
If you can’t be bothered to make your own bread (or if it’s too hot!) get bread with the lowest sodium content you can find that isn’t pre-sliced and slice it into thin slices. The serving size on the packages is listed for about 1/8 of a loaf so thinner slices make a big difference.
Lately I have been reheating bread I buy in store and it is the best! Heat the loaf directly on the oven rack for 5-8 minutes at 400°F, transfer onto a cooling rack and wait at least 5 minutes for it to cool before slicing, and then enjoy crusty, fresh-tasting bread!
Low-sodium California veggie melt sandwich
Makes 1 sandwich
- 2 slices of low-sodium bread
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pesto, recipe below
- cheddar, swiss, or other melty cheese, as much as covers a slice of bread (I used 18g/0.6oz of Fiscalini medium cheddar)
- 1/4 of an avocado (or 1/2 if the avocado is small), crushed with a fork
- dried oregano, to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tomato slices (I like heirloom tomatoes)
- 1 small carrot, shredded (I got about 3 tablespoons/4 ml from mine)
- 1/4 cup (10g) sprouts, rinsed and dried (I prefer broccoli sprouts, I used tangy clover and broccoli sprouts here)
- 6 baby kale leaves, or as many as cover a slice of bread
- Prepare all ingredients, saving the avocado and carrot for last so they don’t brown.
- On one slice of bread, spread the pesto and place the cheese on top.
- Toast both slices of bread (the prepared slice and the bare slice) until the cheese melts on the prepared slice.
- Spread the crushed avocado on the bare slice of toast, seasoning it with oregano and ground pepper to taste.
- Over the slice with the avocado, stack the tomato, carrot, sprouts, and baby kale leaves.
- Place the other slice over the sandwich to finish.
- Put in two toothpicks to keep the sandwich assembled, slice the sandwich in half, and enjoy!
Loosely adapted from Cookie+Kate’s ‘How to make pesto’
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pine nuts
- 1/4 cup (59 ml) basil, rinsed and dried
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (1.2 to 2.5 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used 3/8 teaspoons/1.8 ml)
- 1 tiny garlic clove or half of a small clove, finely minced
- 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- Crush the pine nuts, basil, garlic, and lemon juice in a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, blend them in a food processor.
- Stir in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and gently crush (or blend) the pesto if needed. If the pesto is too chunky, stir in some or all of the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
Sources of sodium
- Bread and cheese, small amounts in the carrot, avocado, sprouts, tomato, and baby kale
Approximate sodium intake per sandwich: 298 mg
- 148 mg from the bread, which has 148 mg of sodium per 1/8 loaf (57 g/2 oz) serving
- 122 mg from the cheese, which has 190 mg sodium per 1 oz (28 g) serving
- 19 mg from the carrot, which has 69 mg sodium per 100 g serving
- 3 mg from the avocado, which has 14 mg sodium per avocado
- 2 mg from the sprouts, which have 15 mg sodium per 84 g serving
- 2 mg from the tomato, which has 1 mg sodium per tomato slice
- 2 mg from the baby kale, which has 55 mg sodium per 141 g/5 oz serving
- These values are calculated from the nutritional labels of the ingredients I used
- Serve with chips on the side! Kettle makes unsalted potato chips which are very low in sodium, 5 mg per serving! The yellow chips pictured here are two servings (and yes, I weighed my chips like a dork. Two servings are 56 g or 2 oz). These chips are a bit of an acquired taste because they taste differently from salted chips, but they’re good! I also like purple heirloom potato chips by Jackson’s Honest from Whole Foods, but they’re higher in sodium (150 mg), so those on low sodium diets should probably stick to a single serving (28 g or 1 oz), pictured. Or stick to the Kettle chips if you have a hard time abstaining from open chip bags, like we do, especially tiny ones with tiny, crispy chips.
Reduce the sodium
The significant sources of sodium here are the bread and the cheese. If you don’t want to make your own low-sodium bread, choose loaves that have lower sodium content and that are not pre-sliced so you can slice them yourself into thin slices. The serving size on the packages is for 2 ounces of bread, which is generally about 1/8 of a loaf, so cutting it into thinner slices makes a big difference.
Swiss cheese melts well and has a lot less sodium than cheddar. And you can get it sliced into thin slices at a deli. If I had used the same amount of swiss cheese instead of cheddar here, the amount of sodium would have been reduced by almost a third! The sodium for the cheese would be reduced to 35 mg (from 122 mg) and the total amount of sodium per sandwich would be reduced to 211 mg (from 298 mg).
Increase the sodium
If we weren’t worried about our sodium intake, we would add a dash of salt to the pesto and we would add more salt to our bread dough.
Make it vegan
Everything is vegan except the cheese! You can use any vegan cheese that’s easy to slice and melts well.
Did you make this?
- If you recreate this recipe, I’d love to know! Leave a comment here and tag @alickofsalt on social media.