Monday, September 5, 2011

Greek 'Feta' Salad Sandwiches

Greek Salad Sandwich(this post from was a while ago, but since I lost my camera cord, I didn't post till now!)

The dog was tired enough to not even bother waking us up, so we didn't roll out of bed until ten thirty am! We had our friends Noelle, and Joe (of Carpe Vegan) over for dinner last night, and even more folks came over for board games after that and we played until the wee hours. We made a few dishes for dinner, but the star of the show was the Greek Sandwiches - a recipe of Jon's we enjoy every few months.

I just started uploading the pictures to Jon's flikr account as he was heading out the door, and he called over his shoulder "make sure to only upload good pictures, I don't want any blurry ones in between" and "make sure you tag everything properly". That cracked me up that he actually cared about the quality of the photos in his feed, whereas I treat flikr like one of those catchall drawers filled with paper clips, expired coupons and museum putty.

Jon wrote up his recipe and the associated blog post, so here's Jon:

One of my favorite sandwiches as a kid (after I went vegetarian but before I went vegan) was a Greek sandwich from Cross Rhodes in Evanston. Cucumber, Tomato, Red Onion, feta, olive oil, and vinegar in a thick, soft Greek pita. Damn. I tore those sandwiches up in my youth. While investigating the various cheese substitutes out there, we have made two key discoveries:
1. All vegan "feta" cheese you can buy at the store is disgusting. The range is from "bland and weird and unpleasant" to "please erase my memory of that flavor."
2. Sheese "strong cheddar" flavor does not taste much like cheddar, but in context DOES actually taste quite a bit like feta (more so than homemade feta we've made)

This led me to chase my dream of recreating that sandwich, and lo, it was glorious. After making it about a half dozen times I figured I should measure the ingredients I add and write the recipe down. Also, originally I would shred and crumble up the cheese into little bits and make a light dressing more like the basic sandwich. But I hate screwing around with trying to make fake cheese crumble, so here is a simpler recipe where you just blend it with the dressing. It is still all kinds of delicious, and much less work. Also, the original recipe only used half the block and then the other half would spoil in the fridge. After doing that several times I just started doubling it and freezing the unused sauce for later. Here's the recipe:

3 cucumbers, sliced
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped (can't get good tomatoes? don't bother with this recipe, as they are key)

1 small red onion, sliced into thin crescents (quarter the onion then slice thin)
Optional: lettuce, or sprouts, or whatever else you like (I skipped them in the batch shown in the photo)
Greek pita or lavash (Greek pita is thick and soft and awesome, but if you can't get it normal pita will suffice)

1 block Sheese “strong cheddar” flavor vegan cheese
2 large cloves garlic
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp lemon juice (~1.5 lemons)
3 Tbsp fresh oregano (or ~1 Tbsp dried oregano)
¾ tsp black pepper
¾ tsp sumac (optional, but awesome)

½ tsp dried dill (optional)

¼ tsp salt
1 cup water (after cutting the tomatoes & cucumbers up, drain them into the measuring cup to start with and add plain water until you get to 1 cup)

Note that this recipe makes about twice as much sauce as you need, but just freeze the other half and next time this recipe will be crazy easy. Just cut up the veggies and let them drain a bit to start. Mix all of the ingredients for the sauce in the food processor (I add everything except the sheese and water first and puree it for a while to get a nice base, then add the drained tomato juice & remaining water & sheese). You can either toss the veggies with some of the sauce to taste and eat on the pita bread, or just spread the sauce on the pita or lavash and add the veggies. Definitely don’t pre-mix the veggies and sauce if you’re not going to eat it all right away or it gets watery. Adjust any ingredients to your liking, this is just a rough guide rather than a hard and fast recipe