The perfect summer sandwich. May 19, 2011Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
Tags: easy summer sandwiches, healthy summer lunches, Lee Gribben, pita veggie sandwich, vegetarian sandwiches
Silence Dogood here. As May moves closer to June, the lunch choices that sustained me and our friend Ben* through the cold, dismal months seem less and less inviting. Much as we love pizza, if I see one more slice for at least a month I’m going to scream. OFB’s cold-weather favorite, piping-hot popcorn with melted butter and shredded cheese, is way too heavy for hot weather. And both pizza and popcorn leave a lot to be desired in terms of healthy eating. When it’s cold inside, we both think hot leftovers are awfully appealing as lunch fare, but once the weather heats up, it’s better to save them for supper.
All this was revolving in my mind as I was making up a grocery list last night. And suddenly, I recalled a sandwich I really loved and hadn’t had in years. It’s healthy, yummy, easy to make, and sloppy to eat (must have many napkins and hold sandwich over plate). Thinking about how good it was, I quickly added the ingredients to my shopping list.
Now, I think this sandwich had its origin in something with the unlikely name of “Velowedge,” created by nutritionist Anita Hirsch for the Lehigh Valley, PA, Velodrome, a bike-racing venue established by organic gardening guru Bob Rodale back in the, er, early ’80s?! The Velodrome continues, but alas, the Velowedge is history. And in any case, I could be mistaken; I never had one, so maybe it was actually something quite different.
My own encounter with this beloved sandwich occurred via Emmaus, PA caterer Lee Gribben, who at the time had a small shop, Lee Gribben’s Fine Gourmet, where you could stop in to order sandwiches, salads, desserts and the like or schedule catering for an event. I can think of numerous times when I doubtless annoyed poor Lee and his staff no end by ordering this lunchtime treat with no cucumbers, no sprouts, and extra cheese.
Fortunately, should you happen to be in scenic Emmaus, you can still order this sandwich from Lee at his excellent restaurant, Lee Gribben’s on Main. It’s the Pita Veggie sandwich, and Lee’s lunch menu describes it as containing lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, tomato, Monterey Jack cheese, sunflower seeds, mustard, and herb mayo. The veggies and cheese are diced or shredded and stuffed into pita halves with ample amounts of sunflower seeds for crunch and mustard and mayo for flavor. The result is amazingly delicious. (Apparently the sprouts have gone the way of the Velowedge.) And the sandwich is filling enough to make a great lunch on its own, giving you the best of all possible worlds: flavor, lots of healthy veggies, and plenty of protein, all for $6.95. Thanks, Lee!
Sadly, these days, I head into Emmaus only six or so times a year, and never for a lunch date. So I determined to create my own version of Lee’s Pita Veggie sandwich so OFB and I could enjoy it for lunch here at Hawk’s Haven. Here’s my version; see what you think.
Pita Pockets with Cheese and Veggies
1 whole-wheat pita per person, cut in half
shredded extra-sharp white Cheddar
diced paste tomatoes
chopped scallions (green onions) and/or diced red onion
diced red, yellow or orange bell pepper
pepitas (roasted pumpkinseeds)
chipotle yogurt dip
To assemble the sandwiches, put the shredded cheese in a bowl and mix in enough of the yogurt dip to thoroughly coat the cheese. Stir in all ingredients except lettuce and sprouts. Add more yogurt dip if necessary to coat everything. Stuff cheese mixture into pita halves with lettuce and sprouts; serve two halves per person unless, ahem, someone wants more. Eating these is not pretty, so make sure you have big plates, napkins galore, and a fork to take up spilled contents so you don’t lose so much as a sprout. Trust me, you won’t want to!
‘Til next time,
* Note that putting “me” first is the easy way to avoid the egregious “so-and-so and I” error.