It all started with a full-page photograph of a sandwich in Bon Appetit magazine called the California veggie sandwich, and it featured sprouts.
Since I’m from the other coast, sprouts weren’t a big deal. But a stacked all-vegetable sandwich brought me right back to my family’s all-time favorite sandwich shop called The Mason Jar in downtown Harwichport, Mass.
One of my favorites was a carrot, cucumber, tomato and swiss with Russian dressing, and it’s still on the menu.
Somehow the memory of that sandwich with the image of the California veggie morphed into my own quest for a stacked vegetable sandwich.
And that sandwich required sprouts.
How to grow sprouts in a jar
It’s shockingly simple and nearly foolproof to sprout seeds unless you neglect to keep the seeds moist like I did the first time. Which is why I recommend keeping the jar with your sprouting seeds in a windowsill. Not only because they’ll get whatever glimmers of post-winter solstice sunlight peeks through the snow clouds on any given winter day. But also because you’ll see them and be reminded.
Oh yes, water. That is all the seeds require.
Growing anything from seed is one of the most life-affirming acts I know. But growing anything in winter is downright miraculous.
What type of seeds? I bought an organic salad blend that included radish, mung bean, alfalfa and red clover. I’ll be on the lookout for these other seeds, including broccoli, chia, fenugreek, kale, and sunflower to grow into sprouts for salads, sandwiches, noodle bowls and more.
They all require the same treatment: soak a tablespoon or two (I did 2 tablespoons) in 1 cup cool filtered water in a sterilized mason jar for 4-8 hours. Fit the ring with a piece of cheesecloth, then drain. Rinse the seeds twice a day, propping the jar at an angle until they are sprouted in 4 or 5 days. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
How long will they keep? In this small quantity (2 tablespoons yielded about 2 cups), I eat them up in just a few days. Due to concerns about microbial activity in sprouts (the #1 reason I never bought them at the store), it’s best to buy seeds specifically selected for sprouting and to eat them within three to four days.
Some sources recommend cooking them, but their fresh, crisp qualities in winter are their whole reason for being in my kitchen, at least.
Why sprout seeds
For the same reason that sprouting beans and nuts, germinating seeds offer up a host of B complex vitamins, fiber, digestive enzymes, antioxidants, proteins and vitamin C. Read more.
But honestly, I just grew them to construct the sandwich of my dreams.
In the end, my sandwich became an amalgam of the California veggie–with ample mashed avocado and the sprouts–and The Mason Jar’s Veggie Classic–with carrot, cucumber and tomato. I held the cheese but didn’t hold back on a homemade spicy version of Russian dressing.
All of it between two slices of this honey whole wheat sandwich bread. (This is not a sandwich for crusty toothsome bread; you need a tender sandwich bread, preferably wholegrain.)
It was tall, it was stacked. I packed it as my lunch for a day of skiing and kept ducking into the lodge for more bites. I called it the Stacked Vegetable & Sprout Sandwich, and it was better than I imagined.
Start those sprouts soon and you can have a bite, too.
Stacked Vegetable & Sprouts Sandwich
It's probably not a great selling point that it takes 5 days to make this sandwich. But making your own sprouts is worth it. Once you have sprouts, the rest comes together easily: a quick pickle of the cucumber and carrots with seasoned rice wine vinegar, a spicy Russian dressing and then mindful layering and stacking of ingredients for the ultimate vegetarian sandwich.
- 1 small cucumber
- 1 medium carrot
- 1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
- 1 teaspoon ketchup
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 tbsp pinch salt
- 1 medium ripe tomato thinly sliced
- 4 slices whole wheat bread
- 2 cups lightly packed fresh sprouts
Use a sharp vegetable peeler to make long slices of the cucumber, turning when you encounter the seeds. Peel the carrot and then make long slices of carrot. Put the cucumber slices and carrot slices in a shallow bowl and add the rice wine vinegar. Let them marinate while you prepare the dressing and other sandwich components.
To make the spicy Russian dressing, combine the mayonnaise, relish, ketchup and sriracha in a small bowl until well blended. Taste for seasoning and set it aside.
Mash the avocado with the salt in another small bowl and set it aside.
Drain the cucumber and carrot slices well and pat them dry with a paper towel. Arrange the vegetables, along with the tomato, near your work space.
To assemble the sandwiches, place 2 slices of the bread on a cutting board and spread thickly with the avocado from edge to edge. Layer over the avocado with by folds of the carrot slices followed by folds of the cucumber slices to make a thick and even layer as in the photos. (You may have some leftover slices.) Arrange the tomato in an even layer on the top.
Top the vegetables with the sprouts. Spread the remaining 2 slices of bread with the spicy Russian dressing and top the sandwiches with them. Use a very sharp bread knife and a gentle sawing motion to slice them in half, if desired. Or, serve them whole and have plenty of napkins on hand.