Veggie Sandwiches with a Kick

By James P. Johnson

When I hike, it’s often an all-day, 15-25 miler. I pack a variety of snacks, but I need a main item to raise my caloric intake to the mucho level. Let me introduce my veggie sandwich.

I’ve been making my own multi-ingredient, vegetarian sandwiches that have evolved over the years and really satisfy. A combination of cheese, condiments and vegetables that I source from my backyard garden makes a meal that I’m eager to pull out in the middle of my hike.

I usually make two sandwiches, using a hoagie or everything bagel. I lay on sliced cheese, tofu (I slice this myself), fresh dill, basil and an herb that really ups the deliciousness level—thyme. I pile on onions, pickles, tomatoes and an ingredient that sets my sandwiches apart: Serrano peppers, which I grow, dry and grind myself. This gives it a kick that makes me want to eat another and another.

Miner’s lettuce, a mild, small-leafed green that grows wild throughout the Northwest, tops off my sandwich. I had never heard of Miner’s lettuce until coming across it in a seed catalog and finding out it’s native to our area. Named for its use by 19th-century California gold miners who benefited from its high vitamin C content, which prevents scurvy, I’ve come across it in wild areas around Spokane and even in town. Mainly a spring and early summer crop, it re-seeds so profusely that I’ve never had to replant since its first year. When hot weather comes and the Miner’s lettuce declines, my garden romaine or red leaf lettuce takes its place in the veggie sandwich.

Look to your garden or forage at a local farmers’ market for fresh, late-season produce to make this knockout sandwich for your next day hike or road trip.

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