For a picnic sandwich that stays fresh until lunch time, look no further! Farmer’s market asparagus stays crisp all day and the goat cheese is best for make-ahead sandwiches.
Dear food geek, I’m planning a picnic lunch and don’t know what to bring. I don’t want a sandwich that ends up like those soggy pre-packaged sandwiches you get at the deli.
I know your trouble, I’ve been there. Nothing is worse than a soggy, wilted sandwich when you finally sit down to eat. Those types of sandwiches also turn you into a ‘condiment accommodator’ – making sure everyone has mustard (what kind?), mayo, pickles, onions? What do I do with the leftover condiments?
This sandwich stands on its own and doesn’t need any extras, keeping waste to a minimum. It also has a few tricks to keep it fresh, even when packed for a picnic.
- Toasted open-faced to keep the bread crunchy
- Spreadable goat cheese holds up much better than sliced cheese
- Raw asparagus retains a nice crunch, adding extra freshness to the sandwich, even hours later.
Just make sure everyone likes asparagus 😉
I love taking this on wine country picnics since it is vegetarian. Then we can eat it alongside some prosciutto and melons. However, most people considering pairing wine with asparagus a challenge. It can make wine taste metallic or vegetal. Stay away from oaked wines, like oaked Chardonnay and go for unoaked, crisp whites with citrus notes instead. Sauvingon Blanc and Pinot Gris usually work well.
Picnic sandwich with asparagus, olives, goat cheese, and lemon
- 4 ciabatta rolls
- 2 Tbsp olive oil**
- 8 ounces goat cheese, spreadable*
- 12-16 asparagus spears
- 1 lemon
- 12-16 kalamata olives, chopped
- 1 handful salad greens
Preheat the oven to 425 to toast the rolls. Zest the lemon and squeeze the juice into a medium bowl. Slice asparagus into rounds and toss into lemon juice, add salt and pepper to taste. Chop the olives.
Cut the rolls in half*** and drizzle with olive oil (garlic flavored if you have it!). Toast in the oven for about 5 minutes, until golden.
Spread 2 ounces of goat cheese on one side of each roll.
Put the asparagus on top of the cheese lay (to hold it in place). Top with olives, zest and greens.
If wrapping for a picnic, wrap each sandwich tightly so the filling doesn't fall out.
- Olive oil: this is delicious with garlic flavored olive oil, since it's nice and delicate without having an overpowering garlic flavor.
- Goat cheese: I like herbed goat cheese, something like this.
- Cut rolls in half: You can also cut part way through, leaving one edge intact, so stuff doesn't fall out as easily.
Calories don’t tell the whole story, but they do put things into perspective… is this sandwich I’m about to make a light sandwich or does it get a little crazy and exceed 1000 calories (hey, a fried chicken sandwich can do that do you!).
This one lands in the middle, which is perfect for a picnic where you are probably using up a good amount of energy playing frisbee golf or running after small children. Below is a calorie breakdown by ingredients (per serving).
- This picnic sandwich has almost 50% of your daily protein. I checked this 3 times to make sure! Most of it comes from protein in the bread and the goat cheese.
- It also has 25% or more of most of your daily vitamins, with asparagus contributing a lot of your vitamin K.
- What is vitamin K good for? It helps build strong bones, aids in blood clotting, and helps regulate sugar. It’s fat soluable, so the fat from the goat cheese will help absorption.
Recipe notes & tips
- Cheese – grab herbed goat cheese if you can find it. Something like this. If you can’t find an herbed version, you could also add in 1/2 to 1 tsp dried herbs per 8 ounces of cheese and mix it together. If you don’t like goat cheese, another spreadable cheese works best – it holds the asparagus rounds in place and doesn’t get wilty like sliced cheese does after sitting on a sandwich for a few hours.
- Slicing the roll – if you pile the asparagus on high, it might tend to roll off. You can cut the rolls part way through, leaving one end intact. That helps keep things from falling off.
- Snapping vs cutting asparagus spears: what you’re trying to do is get rid of the dried out end. The best way to do that is cut a little off – if it’s still dry, cut a little further.
- Thin or thick asparagus? Thin asparagus is better for eating raw, like in this recipe, or a quick saute or steam. Thicker asparagus is good for grilling or roasting as it holds up to the higher heat and extended cooking better than thin spears.
What else is in season?
Asparagus is one of the first spring vegetables to show up, and ends sometime around the start of summer.
- Get more asparagus tips (pun intended) and a collection of asparagus recipes from some of my favorite bloggers.
- Take a look at what else is in season at the same time: March, April, May and June.
This is loosely based off a sandwich I got from the Blue Apron meal delivery. I’ve removed steps to make it faster and replaced ricotta cheese with goat cheese. Their version is good too and uses sauteed asparagus and fennel – get their recipe here. I like the uncooked asparagus better for a picnic sandwich, as it holds up longer, in my opinion.
I’ve tried about half a dozen food delivery kits and Blue Apron is still my favorite.
The ingredients from Blue Apron are high quality, the recipes work well, and are always pretty healthy with a substantial serving of vegetables. They also list all ingredients and nutritional information. A lot of other kits load up on carbs, have pitiful amounts of vegetables, and don’t list ingredients or nutrition (not okay in this day and age!).