Feta-Basil Sandwiches

IMG_4112Vegetarian Wednesdays are still going strong, in our house! Admittedly, I expected waning enthusiasm (or my memory) would mean a slow death for this pledge. Instead, the plethora of veggies that are in season this time of year often means more than one meal in our week might be vegetarian, in fact. But, to be honest, there are times (especially midweek) when I’m feeling too worn down to cook — too worn down to follow a big recipe, especially!

It’s in times like these when having a quick and easy meal is ideal — like a secret weapon in your back pocket! While I don’t mind a “complicated” recipe every now and then, easy recipes always pique my interest. In my journeys through cookbooks, my surfing of the internet for recipes, and my own kitchen tinkerings, — even though I love a challenge, the thrill of the hunt — the quick and easy recipes are probably the ones that I file away for keeps more often than not. A meal that comes together in a few minutes with the added benefit of being healthy and tasty is definitely a recipe worth repeating.

This is why I cherish this easy, vegetarian sandwich recipe from Cooking Light that James and I happened upon several years ago. The concept couldn’t be simpler: a zesty cheese paired with a pungent fresh herb, topped with summer-ripened tomato slices, sandwiched between two hearty bread slices.

Let’s Talk Ingredients

Feta Cheese — Feta is a very flavorful cheese that is traditionally made with goat’s milk or sheep’s milk but is sometimes made of cow’s IMG_4113milk. It’s usually packed in tubs and covered with whey or water (to preserve the taste). The taste is a bit sharp and a bit salty if you’ve never tried it, but the texture is at once creamy and yet crumbly. A less salty alternative to feta, for this recipe, would be goat cheese (chΓ¨vre). You can find both in the cheese case at nearly any supermarket.

Low Fat Sour Cream — This was one of the changes I made to the original recipe: the original called for fat free mayonnaise. It so happens that I’ve never found a single low fat or fat free mayonnaise that I find tolerable. It probably has something to do with the fact that fat free mayonnaise makes no sense to me since mayonnaise is a mixture of eggs and oil (both of which have fat in them). Therefore, the concept of a fat free mayonnaise seems an oxymoron (as does fat free half and half, now that you mention it). IMG_4111Instead, to lower the fat content, I used part regular mayonnaise and part low fat sour cream (which has no artificial ingredients and tastes darned close to regular sour cream).

Basil — One of the easiest herbs to grow and one of the boldest tastes of summer, basil is definitely one of my favorite herbs. Right now, you should be able to buy great bunches of it at your local farmer’s market or your supermarket produce section. But, to save money, you might consider growing your own, next time! (details on growing your own basil in this entry)

Feta-Basil Sandwiches

Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 4

    4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
    2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    2 tablespoons low fat sour cream
    1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    8 slices tomato (1/4-inch thick)
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    8 slices whole wheat bread

    In a medium bowl, combine the feta, mayonnaise, sour cream, chopped basil, and black pepper; stir until uniform, cover, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, place tomato slices in a single layer on a thickness of paper towels (about 3 layers thick). Sprinkle the slices with the salt and allow to rest for about 20 minutes. Press the tomato slices lightly with paper towels to remove the excess moisture.

    Toast the bread slices, if desired. Spread 1/4 of the feta mixture onto four of the bread slices; top each with two tomato slices and an additional slice of bread. Slice diagonally, serve immediately.

IMG_4115

There are several things I like about this recipe. First, definitely the taste! It’s hard to describe other than to say it tastes like pure summer. Secondly, I love all of the fresh ingredients — one of the many reasons why this recipe shouldn’t be made any other time of the year, in my opinion. Third, I love the fact that the cheese mixture can be put together up to a day in advance if you’ll be pressed for time. Lastly, the sandwich makes an excellent light lunch the next day. We sometimes serve this sandwich with a salad, but it’s perfectly fine as a solo performer.

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~ by Jason on August 18, 2011.

18 Responses to “Feta-Basil Sandwiches”

  1. Nice post. I enjoy your writing style. And I always enjoy a Harriet-the-Spy tomato sandwich. I’ve been known to add basil myself, but I hadn’t ever thought to make a feta-mayo-sourcream spread. Yum!

    Tell James “hello!” from a fellow CU TPC grad!
    mls

  2. Have you tried Nayonaise? It’s a vegi alternative that has a lot of flavor.

    • No, I haven’t, but I have heard good things about it from vegan friends. If I ever decide to go vegan, I’d probably give it a try since it doesn’t happen to have any nasty, artificial things in it.

  3. You make everything sound delicious, and this certainly looks it too! I think I’ll definitely try out this recipe. I have pots and pots of basil (my favorite herb these days, and I’ve already made pesto twice, inspired by you, so thank you very much!) but feta is rather expensive….so let’s see…
    Btw, I never answered you about the cardamom-ginger thing. I think cardamom has a sweet undertaste to it and has a very different aroma from ginger. Can’t say what else I could possibly compare it to though, it’s so unique !

    • Thanks, Munira. Here in Midwest America (where cheese is plentiful) most cheeses are pretty easy to come by — it’s good SEAFOOD that’s expensive and rare. I guess everywhere has its trade-offs. πŸ™‚

      I don’t disagree with you about cardamom, for sure. I love spices so much that I seldom think of how to describe them. I guess — for lack of a better comparison — I chose ginger as a taste companion. Though, truthfully, I didn’t realize until I researched it that they’re in the same family of plants. It might’ve been the power of suggestion at work. πŸ˜›

      • Haha, too bad I’m not so fond of seafood… which is ironic as I live right next to the Arabian Sea! πŸ˜€
        Same family of plants eh? Interesting!
        I forgot to mention….the accompanying pictures are very artistically taken. Nice work! πŸ™‚

      • Thanks! I was actually having a hard time with the lighting on that particular day, and that darned tomato kept trying to roll all over the place… and a pesky spider jumped out of the basil at me! Sigh… but it is easy to take nice pictures with such colorful ingredients.

      • Your spider episodes are too funny! How come I never find any in my plants? And you’re right about the colours…red green and white are fabulous contrasts!

      • I’ve tried to find out what specific kind of spider it is — they’re usually pretty small (the biggest one was about an inch across [leg to leg]), and they’re a greyish-clear color. They move VERY quickly! :-O I’ve not found them ANYWHERE else in the garden but they come back every year to the basil. I’m not sure what the advantage is for them and I’ve not really noticed any webs.

      • This is me and spiders http://munzee72.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/encounter-of-the-close-kind/

        πŸ˜€

  4. YUM YUM! Hugs,
    Sally

  5. Good grief, this looks absolutely amazing! My dinner tonight consisted of a cheese and beef slim jim and a protien bar picked up at a UDF on the way home from training in West Chester! I do believe I am actually salivating!
    Adding ingredients to my GroceryIQ as soon as I finish this comment!!

    Keep the posts and recipes coming! πŸ˜‰

    Tell James hello!!

    Becky

    • Ugh! Slim Jims?! πŸ˜› Ha!

      James says hello — and he actually had a dream about you singing at a strange church service, last night. Apparently, in the dream, I was supposed to be there playing the piano, but I was a no-show (that is so not like me)! πŸ˜€

  6. mmmmmm Sounds really tasty .

  7. Lovely recipe. I love feta and tomatoes together. I put them both in scrambled eggs – they’re a match made in heaven!

  8. HAHA….that would NOT be good! lol

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