Monday, June 6, 2011

Carrot Cauliflower Sandwiches

Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch as our family of 6 tries really hard to eat on $6/day.

What? You don't see your children galloping to the table when you call, "The carrot cauliflower sandwiches are ready, dears." (Because I totally know you call your babies 'dears' on a regular basis, don't you?)

As for galloping, I've got to tell you, they probably won't. They'll most likely compare the scent of the cooked cauliflower to poop; even your husband will chime in on that one (and let's face it, it does have a slightly shall we say gassy smell when cooked). They'll probably make gagging noises and maybe even make a show of going into the bathroom to "barf." I assure you that this is because they hold your skill as a homemaker in the utmost regard. Okay, well, I don't assure you of that. But I will assure you of this: You should make this anyway because it's very very good and pretty darn nutritious, and even if you end up eating it all by your lonely for lunch one day (or over the course of a couple days), you won't really mind because that means more for you. Amen and amen.

I first discovered this sandwich when writing an article on child care while in graduate school. I went to a woman's house to observe her child care and guess what was on the menu for lunch (and yes, her little dears ate it). She made hers like grilled cheese--she used two pieces of buttered bread, which she toasted (with the filling between) on a skillet. It's crazy wicked good this way, but sometimes I'm not hungry enough for that much at lunch. I usually have mine open faced on one piece of toast, and I find this sandwich SPECTACULAR with a slice of sharp cheddar underneath the veggie filling. I've made this sandwich for several (adult) loved ones. Everyone's a bit skeptical at first (it's like sort of like telling your mother your fiance is named Bertha--sure, she might be sweet and petite and skinny as a nail, but until you get to know her, that name will just trip you up). But everyone who has eaten it has enjoyed it.

Carrot Cauliflower Sandwiches
Serves 6-8
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Cost: $1.45
(cauliflower: 1.50, carrots: 35, mayo: .05, bread: .05)

1 small head cauliflower
6 medium carrots (I'm thinking about 1/2 pound)
2/3 C mayo
salt and pepper to taste
toast to eat it on (I like it best with sourdough)
slices cheddar cheese (option)

Steam or boil the cauliflower and carrots. Steaming takes a bit longer, but is the healthiest. If you boil them, just use about 1 inch of water, cover the pot, and keep an eye on it just in case the water gets low. I usually cut the stalk off the cauliflower, but otherwise leave it as a head and then dice the carrots.

Steam or boil them until they are tender enough to be mashed with a fork, but not so tender that they will turn into paste when you mash them. (You should be able to cut right into the head of cauliflower with a fork and have it break apart, but it shouldn't feel like cutting soft butter.) For perfectly perfect results, you can cook the cauliflower and carrots in different pans, but that's too much hassle for me, so I just check to make sure one or the other isn't getting too soft. If it is, I take that one out and leave the other to cook longer.

Drain off liquid and mash the carrots and cauliflower with a fork.

(You'll note I cut up my cauliflower here. It cooked a little too fast and came out a little too mushy. The world didn't end, but I wish I'd left it as a head or as bigger chunks.)

Add mayonnaise, beginning with just 1/3 C. If you want more, keep adding it until it's a consistency you like.

Add salt and pepper. Don't skip this step. This needs some salt to make it work. Give it a couple shakes until it's singing your song.

Eat on toast with cheese. Or put between two pieces of bread. Butter the bread and heat on a skillet as you would grilled cheese. (That'll sing your song.) It's also great on Wheat Thins. It'll keep in the fridge for a good week, although I always love it the most right out of the pan.


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