Thursday, June 10, 2010

Feta and Avocado Sandwiches with Herbs and Spicy Butter Bean Spread

That title's a mouthful, isn't it? I just wanted to highlight all the important ingredients because this sandwich is SO FREAKING GOOD. And it's the combination of a lot of v. contrasting, strong flavors - cilantro, mint, feta, garlic, peppers, buttery avocado and buttery butter beans - plus all the different textures that those foods bring to the sandwich - that make it so good. It's so good I had it the next day for breakfast and then when lunch time came around I was sad because I didn't have any feta or avocado left and, well, the sandwich would be good but definitely not as good without those.

The butter bean spread (which doubles as a fantastic dip, by the way) was random. The recipe on which these sandwiches are based called for homemade hummus. (Which reminds me: note, if you're not up for making your own spread, just use store-bought hummus.) And I had a can of butter beans but no garbanzo beans in my pantry (a v. rare phenomenon indeed). I've been using a lot of beans and bean flours in my daughter's baby food lately, so I'm particularly (annoyingly) sensitive to the nuances of bean tastes and textures at present. I'm also a little tired of garbanzo beans and garbanzo bean flour (a.k.a. gram flour, chana flour, besan, chickpea, or cici flour). I looked at the can of butter beans in my pantry and thought they might make a better-tasting spread than good old hummus, homemade or not. I mean, they are smoother and milder and have the word butter in their name. And it's just different than the usual, and I always like that.

But then I thought that fresh garlic and jalapeño might be too intense for butter beans, so that's why I cooked them a bit.

And that's the story.

These sandwiches are so so so so so good. I think about them when I'm not eating them.

They photograph alright too, don't they?

Feta and Avocado Sandwiches with Herbs and Spicy Butter Bean Spread
Just slightly adapted from Bon Appétit, February 2009
Yield: 4 sandwiches

8 slices fresh, delicious, soft whole-grain bread slices
1 medium avocado, sliced into 1/4" thick pieces (you'll want about 12-16 slices)
4 ounces feta cheese, sliced into 1/4" thick pieces
1/2 a cucumber, thinly sliced
handful of cilantro
handful of mint
1/4 cup Spicy Butter Bean Spread (recipe below) or prepared hummus

Generously coat each slice of bread with the butter bean spread. Evenly distribute cilantro and mint leaves on four slices of bread. Layer cucumbers, then feta, then avocado, then some freshly ground pepper, then remaining four slices of bread on top. Devour and then think about them longingly once they're gone.

Spicy Butter Bean Spread
1 15-ounce can butter beans (or garbanzo beans or black beans)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeño, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Rinse and drain the beans and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the jalapeño and garlic cloves and cook over medium heat for about five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Once cooled, place the cooked jalapeño and garlic into food processor bowl, reserving olive oil.

Add the beans to the food processor and mix the beans, cooked garlic and jalapeño until pretty smooth. Drizzle in lemon juice, tahini, and reserved olive oil until a spreadable consistency is reached. Add a bit more olive oil if you'd like. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This makes about 2 cups of the spread. It is great as a dip with crackers and vegetables.


  1. Remember when you used to ask me for cooking advice??? I'm really impressed with your now-innate form used in cooking the jalapenos and garlic to mellow their flavors. Proud tear-tear.

  2. G-M: Impressing you is what I live for! I have only thought a comment like this would occur in my DREAMS! And, um, I will still be coming to you for advice. About food and, well, check your email.

  3. I am super excited about this recipe (and many others of yours!). My best friend is a vegetarian and loves to cook, so I've been sharing the wealth.

  4. Thanks, Liz! You're such a good cheerleader. And genius and cousin and hard-worker and all other non-vapid things too. (No offense to cheerleaders. I in fact was one once upon a weird time.)