During the school year, I always struggle with lunch. Sure, there are lots of options on campus and in Isla Vista if you’re in need of a quick bite, but trying to order a Subway sandwich in a timely fashion at the Arbor at peak lunch time is nearly impossible. Typically, I resort to packing up my leftovers from last night’s dinner in a sad tupperware. Let me tell you, eating cold pasta outside the library before rushing to lecture is not exactly the best lunchtime vibe.
When I was younger, eating lunch at school seemed so seamless. An adult packed my lunch, and my palate was simple and underdeveloped. I probably ate hundreds of PB&Js during elementary and middle school and never got tired of it. Now that I’m older, I’m yearning for that same convenience but with some added maturity. After trying a similar sandwich at The Picnic Basket in Santa Cruz, I knew I had to recreate it.
This PB&J for grown-ups has everything that you loved as a kid with an elevated twist. Swap the sugary Smucker’s jam for sweet, roasted red beets; swap the Jif peanut butter for almond butter; invest in some good, local bread; add a few other accouterments and you have yourself a delicious sandwich that would make 10-year-old you wince but future you extremely proud.
Ingredients (makes 1 sandwich):
- 1 cup fresh red beets, halved
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- Almond butter (however much your heart desires)
- ½ can of chickpeas, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- 2 slices of your choice of bread (I used a loaf of local bread from the farmers market)
- Ground paprika to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Leafy greens of your choice (optional)
- Cut the beets in half and place them on a baking sheet lined with tin foil or a reusable baking mat. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 F.
- To prepare the chickpea mixture, mash the chickpeas in a bowl with a fork until they’ve reached a slightly mushy consistency. Combine with the Dijon mustard, rosemary, paprika, salt and pepper.
- Toast the bread before assembling the sandwich. I don’t care if you typically don’t toast your bread; from now on, the days of mushy bread are over. We’re adults now; we’ve moved on from Smucker’s Uncrustables.
- Now for the fun (and messy) part: assembly. One side of the sandwich should consist of a thin layer of almond butter with sliced beets placed on top. The other side should have a generous amount of the chickpea mixture spread on it. The sandwich also pairs well with arugula placed in between the two slices of bread.
- I recommend slicing the sandwich in half or eating it open-faced for an easier eating experience. Pack this sandwich with you on your way to class and enjoy!
As college students, we all have busy schedules. Finding time to prepare a nice sandwich isn’t always easy, especially during the middle of the day when you’re tasked with a million other things to do. However, parts of this sandwich can be prepped at the start of the week to make life easier. Roast the beets and create the chickpea spread on the weekend so by the time Monday rolls around, you’ll feel organized and prepared. Here’s to improving lunchtime one sandwich at a time!
A version of this article appeared on p. 10 of the September 22, 2022 version of the Daily Nexus.