Purses Can Be Picnic Baskets

On a busy day full of errands or work travel, think of your purse as a picnic basket. Before heading out, pack a one-container lunch, and fill a reusable bottle with water and slices of lemon and cucumber. Put it all in your purse with a cloth napkin.

On your break, you’ll be ready to settle down for a picnic, either in your car or in a comfy outdoor spot. Lunch will not involve the drive-thru rush, styrofoam takeout waste, or waiting in lunch-hour lines. It will just be delicious.

The ingredients are all assembled here.

The ingredients are all assembled here.

On the Menu:

  • Veggie Deli Sandwich with Fresh Figs (Dairy Free)

For the Container:

  • 1 standard square tupperware
  • 1 cloth napkin
  • 2 pieces of parchment paper, about the size of bread slices
The end state: a delicious veggie, dairy-free sandwich that needs neither icepack nor refrigerator.

The end state: a delicious veggie, dairy-free sandwich that needs neither icepack nor refrigerator.

Why no cheese or meat in this recipe? Icepacks do not do well in a purse, so opting for a veggie, dairy-free deli sandwich is the way to go. It will do well for most of the day without refrigeration.

Parchment paper will protect bread from terrible sogginess. Don’t skip on it, especially in a sandwich loaded with vegetables like this one.

Think about sandwich architecture. This sandwich will be in your purse and eaten on the go, so it needs to stay neat. Build the sandwich a little higher than the container. That way, when you clip on the lid, the sandwich will be slightly stuffed in – with no room to slide around!

Figs on a sandwich? Yes, they’re delicious! So, why not? It’s fig season in California, one of my favorite times of year, and it won’t last much longer. I am eating fresh figs in everything now, sandwiches not excluded. Try to use some that are a little firm.

Layer Number One: Armenian cucumber slices, savory cashew cream, and green onions.

Layer Number One: Armenian cucumber slices, savory cashew cream, and green onions.

The Recipe:

  • 2 slices of fresh bread (I used Prager Brothers Country Loaf)
  • 2 fresh figs, sliced into 1/4-inch discs (or apple slices)
  • 1 handful of mixed greens
  • 1/8 of an Armenian cucumber, very thinly sliced (or a regular cucumber, peeled and sliced)
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 red ruffle pimento pepper, sliced (or any bell pepper)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of savory cashew cream (see note)
Layer Number Two: sliced fresh figs and pimento peppers from Suzie's Farm.

Layer Number Two: sliced fresh figs and pimento peppers from Suzie’s Farm.

Directions:

  1. Lay one slice of bread in the container. Put a piece of parchment paper over it.
  2. Spread the thin cucumber slices over the parchment paper, overlapping them slightly. Save the last five or six slices.
  3. With a small spoon or knife, spread the cashew cream on the remaining cucumber slices. This step will help glue down the next layer of ingredients. Sprinkle the green onions on top.
  4. Next, layer the fig slices on top of the cucumber layer. Sprinkle the pimento peppers on top of the figs.DSC_0143
  5. Spread the rest of the cashew cream on a few leaves of spinach or baby chard. Place those – again this is glue to keep the sandwich together – facedown on the fig layer. Pile the rest of the greens on top.
  6. Lay the second piece of parchment paper on top of the greens. Set the second bread slice on top. The stack should be taller than the container. Gently snap the lid into place, pressing down on the sandwich.
Layer Number Three: a pile of mixed greens.

Layer Number Three: a pile of mixed greens.

Recipe Note: The cashew cream is an easy, but ad-hoc, recipe. I never make it the same way twice. It begins by grinding about two handfuls of raw cashews and one handful of almonds in a food processor. When the nuts are a fine meal, I drizzle in vinegar (usually rice wine), a teaspoon of mustard, a few drizzles of olive oil, and a splash of water. I taste it, add salt and pepper, and drizzle in a bit more water until the texture is smooth, creamy, and thick – like peanut butter. Thereafter, the variations are endless: I’ve made a curry version, a cilantro-lime one, a rosemary-oregano one, and many more…

DSC_0154

This is the kind of tidy sandwich that will travel well in your purse.

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