Avocado, Carrots, Lunch, Quick, Vegetarian

California veggie melt sandwich

California veggie melt sandwich on alickofsalt.com

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!

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Avocado, Beans, Dinner, Legumes, Lunch, Mushrooms, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

Black bean, mushroom, and avocado tacos

Tacos were actually our first successful home-cooked low-sodium meal two years ago. We licked our fingers clean and rubbed our bellies and patted ourselves on the back and have been making some version of them every one to two weeks since. This version is vegetarian and has our favorite source of vegetarian protein, black beans. It can easily be made vegan if you use vegan cheese or skip the cheese altogether.

We always use corn tortillas; they have much less sodium than flour tortillas. I prefer hard shell tacos and I fry mine in a pan with a little bit of oil. I have yet to perfect my method — I never seem to get the temperature and time ratio right — but they’re still always better and less likely to fall apart than store-bought hard shell tacos, even when I accidentally dry them out. The only constant I’ve noticed is that the fresher they are, the less likely I am to screw them up. My husband toasts his tortillas in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes. Check the tips section for more explicit instructions on how I heat them up.

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Avocado, Beans, Dinner, Lunch, Quick, Soup

Aztec Soup (Spicy Tortilla Soup)

Aztec Soup (Spicy Tortilla Soup) on alickofsalt.com

Here is a recent addition to our repertoire of favorite dishes that are quick to make. But first, a quick digression on my relationship with soup.

Soups are a huge part of my heritage. It’s the first part of every main meal. I didn’t particularly appreciate this custom growing up because, as picky as I am about food in general, I’m even pickier about soup. I was happy to eat it if it was made by my mom or grandma and even then, it couldn’t be just any soup. It basically had to be either strained chicken noodle soup with thin, homemade noodles or fresh bean soup with a tomato base.

And then I had a version of this soup in Nicaragua. It’s a tomato base soup with avocado and cheddar and, the best part, crispy tortilla strips. No, wait, the best part might be how quick it is to make.

It’s slightly tangy, likely from the tomatoes we use, and I’ve made it spicy enough to require some nose-blowing mid-meal. We add fried black beans for some extra protein because we have it as a single dish meal. Make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and make it vegan by skipping the cheese.

Part of what makes eating this soup so fun to eat is that you continually replenish the toppings and can have crispy tortilla strips with every bite. I like letting some of the tortilla strips soak slightly, so parts are crispy and parts are soft. My partner like to eat them before they have a chance to soften.

We generally snack a lot during the day so eat relatively small meals. But serial snackers as we are, this soup that’s supposed to serve at least 5 people is only enough for two meals for the two of us.

A website update: I added a favorite tools section to the website which features some of our favorite kitchen things. The products link to the site where we bought them (or had bought from us from our registries). You’ll notice that currently everything that’s on there is from Amazon. That’s in part because I’m only an affiliate there, but in larger part because I actually do buy almost everything from them. They got me hooked, the tricksters, with a free prime account when I was a student living in a city that had no home goods stores within waking distance and I had no car. If you are a human (i.e. not a spam bot), feel free to suggest your must-haves on that page, and not just from Amazon. I look forward to any recommendations!

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