It would be an accurate description to call me an occasional vegetarian. This, even though I grew up, for the most part, in a farming family, where the very idea of a meatless meal stirred up worries of grave malnutrition.
Fast forward to the ninth grade.
It was a year of transitions, including a move from one parent to the other, from town to city and an enormous school, and from living above a butcher shop to a strictly vegetarian diet (although I’ll admit to secretly spending some of my allowance on pastrami).
Suddenly, instead of common tuna salad between my bread, there was unnaturally pink Wham. Suspicious-smelling FriChick instead of chicken. Fried gluten instead of roast beef.
And as every school kid knows, opening a bagged lunch on a meal of weird sandwiches is a sure way to get noticed when you’d really rather not.
A couple of years later, however, I would discover that weirdness is in the eye of the beholder.
Then attending a private school, where veg-headedness was the norm, my lunches looked just like everybody else’s. Everybody, that is, except Adam.
Adam’s grandmother was in charge of feeding three growing teenaged grandsons as they boarded with her for their last two years of high school.
Suffice to say, Adam’s appetite was the stuff of legend. And his lunches, often a tower of five over-stuffed sandwiches, continue to live on in memory these twenty years since.
But it wasn’t just that Adam ate a lot. Although he did. A lot.
The reason his lunches are conversation fodder to this day, is not that he could polish off his Dagwood-esque sandwich pile before the rest of us could peel an orange. Nor that, once finished, he’d cast sidelong looks to see whether anyone might have leftovers.
No, the reason Adam’s lunches will not be forgotten for another twenty years is that his grandmother, in an effort to keep her brood fed and full, didn’t stuff their sandwiches with Wham or FriChick, or even Tuno salad. She filled them, instead, with whatever they’d had for supper the night before.
There were mashed potato sandwiches. Curry and rice sandwiches. Macaroni and cheese sandwiches. And, near the end of every week, Kitchen Sink sandwiches that featured any or all of the week’s meals.
Not a bad idea, perhaps. Just not one that Adam will ever be able to live down. Especially since I married one of his cousins, and won’t let him forget.
I will, however, offer a couple of vegetarian and semi-vegetarian recipes, should Adam want to send his own kids to school with something a little less attention-grabbing this year.
After all, we are family, and no one should have to spend a lifetime being remembered as the kid with the mashed potato sandwiches.
Roasted Vegetable Filling for Wraps (pictured, above)
1 large stalk broccoli
3 or 4 florets cauliflower
1/2 red pepper
1/4 red onion
3 medium carrots
3 portabella mushrooms
olive oil for drizzling
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 cup light mayo
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Boursin cheese for spreading
Roughly chop vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil to coat. Place on a baking sheet and
roast at 400F for about ten minutes, until vegetables are softened. Transfer to a
mixing bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and additional olive oil. Season. Cool
completely. Chop vegetables more finely. Fold in mayo.
Spread each wrap with 2 tsp Boursin cheese. Follow directions as above.
Tuna Salad Filling for Wraps
2 cans flaked light tuna, drained
2 tbs finely chopped red onion
1/2 roasted red pepper, chopped
1 tbs capers
1/2 cup stuffed green Manzanilla olives, sliced
3 banana pepper rings, chopped
3 tbs chopped sun dried tomatoes (reconstituted or in oil, drained)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Toss together tuna with red onion, red pepper, capers, olives, hot peppers, sun
dried tomatoes and parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Season to
taste with salt and pepper. Line wraps with butter lettuce. Spread a generous amount
of filling into the centre and roll up, folding the ends inside. Wrap wraps in
parchment paper and pack in totes with freezer packs to keep cold until lunchtime.
– Words and photo by Darcie Hossack