Eric Akis: Fine sandwiches, right taste

If you’re planning special activities for Earth Day on Sunday, Island ingredients deserve careful consideration

Eric Akis

I desired a sandwich for lunch the other day and decided to make with it foods grown or produced on the Island. It’s Earth Day this Sunday and perhaps that sandwich would be something others would want to pack up and enjoy while marking the occasion outdoors by the seashore or other natural setting.

When choosing ingredients, the logical place to start was with the bread. We have a number of great bakeries on the Island, some of which mill their own grain to use in the breads they bake. Those doing that include True Grain Bread (truegrain.ca), which has Island locations in Cowichan Bay and Courtenay, Roost Farm Bakery (roostfarmcentre.com) in North Saanich, and Wild Fire Bakery (wildfirebakery.ca) in Victoria.

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Another Victoria bakery milling there own grain is Fol Epi, which has locations on Yates Street and at Dockside Green. It’s my family’s go-to place for baguette, but for my sandwich I wanted a larger in width, denser loaf and chose their whole wheat bread. They describe it as a robust, full-flavoured wheat loaf with a chewy texture and complex flavour resulting from the wild yeast fermentation of the grain. They could also call it a great ingredient to start making a sandwich with.

I didn’t feel like putting meat in my sandwich, but I did feel like cheese and wanted a type I could spread on the bread. Sort of in the same way I would mayonnaise, but in a thicker, more noticeable layer.

While shopping at a grocery store for that type of cheese, there were three options made on Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands. They include Island Farms (islandfarms.com) cream cheese, Salt Spring Island Cheese Company (saltspringcheese.com) goat cheese, and Little Qualicum Cheeseworks (cheeseworks.ca) fromage frais, which is described as a West Coast twist-on traditional European Quark.

I opted for the fromage frais because, like the Fol Epi bread, it has an “old world” taste and I was sure the two would work well together. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks sells this fresh, thick, but spreadable cheese in its natural form, and also in three flavoured varieties — herb and garlic, raspberry, and cranberry and pepper.

I decided to buy their natural fromage frais and flavour it myself with herbs from my garden. I also added a bit of garlic to it, which I had bought at Victoria’s Moss Street Market last fall that’s still in good shape all these months later.

Speaking of Moss Street Market, which occurs Saturdays (go to mossstreetmarket.com for details), that’s where I found other ingredients for my sandwich. They were crunchy, first of the season cucumbers and earthy mixed salad greens, some of which had a peppery taste.

The last two items I worked into my sandwiched were, like the herbs in my garden, ingredients I already had on hand. They included sea salt produced by Vancouver Island Salt Company (visaltco.com), which I sprinkled on the cucumber to enhance its flavour. And a container of pea shoots grown by Eatmore Sprouts (eatmoresprouts.com) in the Comox Valley, which have a fresh green-pea taste and are sold at many grocery stores.

Because of the hue of my filling and the nutritious things it and the bread contained, I decided call my creation a “green goodness” sandwich. The recipe for it is below. Feel free to adjust it according to your taste, adding other local ingredients if desired.

If you would like to learn more about Earth Day and the campaign for this year, curbing plastic pollution, go to earthday.ca.

Green Goodness Sandwiches

These local-ingredient-filled sandwiches feature nutritious, fibre-rich bread, tangy, fresh cheese, and a mix of bright-green herbs, shoots and vegetables.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: None

Makes: two sandwiches

2/3 cup Little Qualicum Cheeseworks fromage frais (see Note)

2 Tbsp chopped or snipped fresh herbs (I used a mix of chives, parsley and dill)

1/2 tsp minced garlic

4 slices Fol Epi whole wheat bread, or hearty bread from another Island bakery

1 1/2 cups mixed salad greens, or to taste

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced English cucumber, or to taste

• Vancouver Island sea salt, to taste

• pea shoots, sunflower shouts or alfalfa sprouts, to taste

Place the fromage frais in a small bowl and mix in the herbs and garlic. Spread a thick layer of the herb/garlic flavoured fromage frais on one side of each bread slice.

Top two of those bread slices with salad greens. Top the salad greens with cucumbers.

Sprinkle the cucumber with sea salt. Now top the cucumber with some pea shoots (or sunflower shouts or alfalfa sprouts).

Set the other two slices of bread on the sandwiches, fromage frais side down. Cut each sandwich in half and enjoy now. Or package them up and enjoy on a picnic. If stored well-chilled, the sandwiches will keep for a few hours.

Note: Little Qualicum Cheeseworks fromage frais is sold in tubs in the deli section of many supermarkets.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

eakis@timescolonist.com

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