Summer Salad Sandwich

Today’s recipe is inspired by this month Cook the Books Club pick, hosted by Claudia at Honey from Rock.  Claudia chose the novel Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy.

In CtBC, participants read the chosen book, then make and share something inspired by the book.  Click the link for all the details to join in the fun!

The novel follows Cathy Scarlet & Tom Feather as they begin their exclusive catering business in Dublin.  The book plods a long a bit (but not in a bad way), kind of like real life.

The only thing is, that while I was interested in the characters and their outcomes, the book really wasn’t all that exciting.  It didn’t grab me or elicit any emotion (other than the fact that Neil (Cathy’s husband) is narcissistic jerk!)  There were also a TON of side characters introduced with just small snippets to get the reader interested, never to be mentioned again.  I honestly thought that maybe this was the first book of a series (one of those that follows a different family member with each book) and that these characters would play some important role later on.  But alas.

I think the book would have been much stronger if that had been the case.  The book also could have done with an epilogue (what happens to Cathy & Tom?!?!  Ack! We’ll never know!)

Anyhow, I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t love it either.  It was just ok.  I won’t be running to check out more Binchy books from the library, but I won’t actively avoid her either (oh yes, I do have a shunned author list).

Since the book follows a catering business, there is plenty of foodie inspiration, especially earlier in the book (later on it’s the same dishes mentioned over and over again – Cathy & Tom do have their favorites).

Initially, I had planned to make Yorkshire puddings, which turns out to be what I’ve always called popovers.  And they’re totally on my bucket list, but they seem like more of a winter project, to that one is tabled for now.

Since it is spring and yummy fresh produce is available, I decided to make my take on a Summer Salad Sandwich.

Funny story, this sandwich is actually mentioned when Tom is at a cafĂ© with his brother and he is incredibly disappointed by the sandwich (Tom is known to criticize food everywhere he goes).  Here’s the quote:

“A tired tomato, a piece of plastic cheese, a dead leaf of lettuce, half a hard boiled, discolored egg, a smear of cheap salad cream – and they dare to call that a summer salad sandwich!”

A pretty terrible review!  None the less, it was inspiring!  It reminded me of the summer sandwiches that I practically used to live on (before I started making my own bagels!)  I think I stopped eating these around the time that I made homemade bagels, because I also started making homemade English Muffins at the same time and Hubs prefers the English Muffins (as lunchtime egg sandwiches) to bagels.

Anyhow, I found a much faster bagel recipe and resurrected my summer sandwich, but with a twist as a nod to the book.

The book never mentioned the bread, but I envisioned a bagel (through any crusty rustic bread would be delicious, too).  I kept the tomato (fresh), cheese (cheddar instead of the plastic wrapped stuff), romaine (again, fresh, not droopy), and the egg (the whole thing, and cooked properly). 

I don’t really know what salad cream is (probably mayo), but I decided to swap that out for garden vegetable cream cheese (plain would be fine too). 

Then I added my own touch with a sprinkling of roasted sunflower seeds and cucumber slices (because I love those on sandwiches!)  Avocado would also be amazing (I didn’t add any on this sandwich because mine was still rock hard – why is it that the avocados at the store are either rock hard or inedible mush?  Alas, we shall never know, much like Cathy & Tom’s fates).

Want to know how it is?

I’ve eaten this sandwich for lunch every day this week.  That’s how good it is!

Summer Salad Sandwich

2 tbsp garden vegetable cream cheese
1 tbsp roasted sunflower seed kernels
4 thin cucumber slices
1 thick tomato slice
1 leaf romaine lettuce, shredded
1 hard-boiled egg, sliced
½ slice cheddar cheese

Spread the cream cheese on the bagel.  Sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the cream cheese and top with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Make 1 sandwich

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  1. Hah... I love that you made the sandwich that Tom griped about. It looks wonderful. I listened to the book on audio and I liked it. And you are dead on with Neil. I disliked him from the very start.

  2. I'm sorry you weren't that thrilled with the book. To tell you the truth, on re-reading I realized some of her other novels are much better. It was the culinary school thing that made the choice. Great idea to turn a negative reference around. Your sandwich looks super.

  3. The characters do show up again in later books. It is sort of like other books are set in the same neighborhood so you hear about the people in this book.

  4. I love this sandwich idea and I totally remember that scene now. Yes, there were a lot of characters. I think they might be continued in one of her later books, Quintons, but I am no Binchy expert.

  5. Your sandwich looks amazing. I love the garden vegetable cream cheese, sunflower seeds and cucumber touches you added. I have read a handful of Binchy books and this one is not my favorite although I liked the foodie focus (and yes, Neil was a complete tool!). ;-)

  6. I actually didn't read the book after getting it from the library - just too long for me. But love your take on this summer dish

  7. It's always interesting for me to read how different readers react differently to the same characters. I also remember the sandwich scene: nice choice of dish and nice photos.


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