Desk lunch. Sounds like the most exciting meal. Why hasn’t anyone started a fine dining restaurant featuring this exquisite fare. Just imagine the PB+J’s and ham sandwiches served in little plastic bags. Throw in some chips to be fancy. BBQ flavored.
(All sarcasm aside, “Desk Lunch” would make a great name for a restaurant, amiright?)
But what if your desk lunch was a little bit more like a party? What if it meant crisp caramelized edges? Tender, buttery flesh sandwiched between an array of veggies and whipped feta? Like this roasted cauliflower sandwich with pimento whipped feta and a drizzle of apple cider vinegar reduction.
This healthy sandwich requires little skill and only 30 minutes to make. And yet, it is packed with all the flavor and texture of a sandwich worth going out for. But cheaper. Paired with mini breakfast frittatas in the morning and you’re all set with your busy, fancy self. You can prep the ingredients in advance so you can eat a roasted cauliflower sandwich all week long. And make your coworkers trés jelly.
Rules for a healthy sandwich
This roasted cauliflower sandwich recipe I’m about to share is a healthy sandwich. A well-made, healthy sandwich is hard to achieve. Before we can move on, we must discuss the rules of a really great, healthy sandwich.
- Meatiness: a really great sandwich has something substantial to it. A bunch of raw veggies on a sandwich is boring. You don’t need meat to be meaty. Vegetable ideas can be roasted eggplant, mushrooms, veggie patties, and… of course, roasted cauliflower.
- Composition: a sandwich that is healthy needs thought. What flavors do you want on a sandwich and how can you balance the 5 components of taste: sweet, salty, sour, spicy, bitter?
- Lure: a healthy sandwich needs something beautiful on it. A minor indulgence. Avocado, baba ganouj, or…whipped feta. Something to make it interesting and flavorful.
Let’s Build it
I really like holding hands. So let me hold your hand while we build this sammich together.
Step 1: Roast Cauliflower
- Heat your oven to 425 F/220 C.
- Cut a head of cauliflower vertically into half inch (1.5 cm) slices.
- Place cauliflower on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper and toss.
- Roast 15 minutes. Flip over cauliflower. Roast another 10. Caramelized, meaty cauliflower and rule #1 are complete.
Step 2: Whip Feta
Next, place feta, cream cheese, and pimento paste in a food processor and process for about 4 minutes or until smooth and fluffy. This fulfills both rule #2 and #3. The feta brings saltiness while the pimento brings a little heat and bitterness. And all of it together is an indulgent lure.
Step 3: Apple Cider Vinegar Reduction (optional)
This is another part of the composition rule. The apple cider vinegar reduction brings something sweet and sour to this sandwich. A balance to the salt and gentle heat of the whipped feta. It will still be delicious if you choose to opt out.
Add vinegar and honey to a small sauce pan and allow to simmer for about 6 minutes or until you have about 2 tablespoons of reduction.
Step 4: Build
- Slather both slices of your bread (I recommend a hearty-grain sourdough) with the whipped feta.
- Choose your favorite veggie toppings and pile them on your sandwich. I used spinach, tomato, red onion and fresh basil but other veggies like arugula, cilantro and cucumbers would go really well too.
- Add a big slice of cauliflower and drizzle with vinegar reduction.
Now you’ve got a desk lunch. Ditch your drab desk lunch. Pump up the party with Pop Kitchen and a roasted cauliflower sandwich. And click the play button below for the track from the album “Doing it in Lagos: Boogie, Pop + Disco in 1980s Nigeria” you need to play while you’re sitting at your desk, cauli sammie in hand, eating away. It’s ok to dance a little.
When you try this let me know! Rate the recipe and share your thoughts and questions in the comments below. Use the hashtag #popkitchen when you post your desk lunch photo on Instagram. I’ll share my favorite photos on Pop Kitchen’s account.
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1 Tbsp/15ml of pure olive oil
- salt + pepper
- ½ cup/170 g feta cheese
- 3 oz/85 g cream cheese
- 1 Tbsp/15 ml pimento paste or canned pimentos
- ½ cup/120 ml apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp/15 ml honey
- Red onion
- Fresh basil
- Grainy sourdough bread
- Preheat your oven to 425 F/220 C. Slice cauliflower vertically into ½ in/1.5 cm slices and toss with olive, salt and pepper on a sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes, flip cauliflower, and cook another 10 minutes.
- While the cauliflower is roasting, make the apple cider reduction. Add all ingredients to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Let reduce until there are 2 tablespoons of reduction left, about 6 minutes.
- To make whipped feta: add feta, cream cheese, and pimentos to a food processor. Process until smooth and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
- To serve, shmear two slices of bread with whipped feta. Load up with your veggie toppings. Add a slice or some pieces of roasted cauliflower and drizzle with vinegar reduction. Put together and eat or wrap up for the desk.