Back in my restaurant days, for the longest time we had made our mark serving through two meals a day. Breakfast and lunch.
It was perfect for a vegetarian place since so many dishes for those two meals can naturally be vegetarian and no one thinks twice. Poached eggs, oatmeal, salads, eggplant parmesan. We’d have regular customers come for years and never realize it was a vegetarian place until they were craving a tuna sandwich and found out after asking that their beloved restaurant was a vegetarian place.
Then one summer we decided to try adding a third service, dinner. Two meals we had down logistically to run lean and mean staffing and prep wise, but a third meal threw a huge wrench in the operations. But we all put our heads together, everyone pushed and worked hard to make everything come together.
Even worse than the logistics was to create a unique vegetarian dinner menu that would be special enough to attract even non-veg heads to our humble but stylish establishment. Fortunately the owner’s mom was brilliant in the kitchen. She always had a hand in developing most of the amazing recipes we served, and for the dinner menu she came up with some beauties.
Out of all the amazing dishes, there was one that was a hands down staff favorite. An open-face sandwich with cauliflower puree, asparagus, and a poached egg. This wasn’t a sandwich trying to convert a regular carnivore treat into a vegetarian substitution. It was a brilliant sandwich which happened to be vegetarian.
So many things about the sandwich were great, but for most of us it was the cauliflower puree which sent it over the top. We could, and would, eat the cauliflower puree straight up or on some crostini. Cooked in milk with garlic until soft then pureed up. Oh so good.
You’d think the poached egg would have been the star, but so many times we would make it up for ourselves without the egg. Just the cauliflower puree balanced by the asparagus. Most of us had already been working 10-12 hours by dinner time and it was nice to have something a little less rich before going home and passing out.
So that’s how we’ve re-created the sandwich now here at home, staff meal style. Toast up our favorite bread, a nice thick layer of the cauliflower, which we’ve smashed instead of pureed to give an added texture. Some roasted asparagus and finished off with the sweet refreshing slices of tomatoes.
brown the garlic
then add milk….
cook cauliflower in milk till soft
voila! now assemble sandwich
now you can eat! and share.
Yield: 6-8 Sandwiches
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Preheat oven to 400º F (205º C).