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Classy Open-Faced Veggie Sandwiches

Spinach, Caramelized Onion & Roasted Pepper Open-Faced Sandwiches from Vegetable Literacy

Spinach, Caramelized Onion & Roasted Pepper Open-Faced Sandwiches from Vegetable Literacy
I can never, ever pass up the opportunity to make a recipe that involves caramelized onions. Are they a pain to make? Kind of. Do they take for-freaking-ever to cook down? Absolutely. But they are always worth it. When I was given a list of recipes from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy to choose from for this post, my eyes immediately went to the open-faced sandwiches topped with caramelized onions. There was no way these wouldn’t be delicious!

Vegetable Literacy by Deborah MadisonCaramelized Sweet Onions
The sweet onions and thick slices of roasted red pepper paired perfectly with the salty cheese and earthy spinach. And aside from the time it took to caramelize the onions, these sandwiches were easy to make too. This is why I love Deborah Madison’s cookbooks—they elevate vegetarian cooking beyond veggie lasagnas and burgers, but in a way that’s not intimidating to the average cook.

Caramelized Onions on BreadVegetable Literacy

Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes was released this week and I was lucky enough to get a copy to review. As a vegetarian (and a fan of Deborah Madison’s work in general), I appreciate this book for its inspired recipe ideas, but as a gardener, I loved this book for the background it provided about different vegetables. Vegetable Literacy isn’t just a cookbook, you see, it’s a reference book too, dividing vegetables into different families (The Sunflower Family, The Cabbage Family, The Grass Family, etc.). Each vegetable receives its own write-up, with information about its origin, different varieties, and tips for cooking. If you have Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, this format with information about each vegetable followed by tips and recipes will be familiar to you. And if you love Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, you will love Vegetable Literacy too. Like Deborah Madison’s other books, I know this one is going to be well-used in my kitchen.

Spinach, Caramelized Onion & Roasted Pepper Open-Faced Sandwiches from Vegetable Literacy

Classy Open-Faced Veggie Sandwiches

A rustic open-faced sandwich from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy.
Servings: 2 -4 servings


  • caramelized sweet onions 2 large onions is perfect—here's a post on how to caramelize onions
  • 1 hefty bunch of spinach at least a pound, stems removed, leaves well washed
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 meaty roasted red peppers
  • 1 piece of bread per person such as ciabatta, rye, or a whole grain levain bread
  • 1 garlic clove halved
  • thinly sliced manouri or ricotta salata
  • olive oil to finish


  • Warm the caramelized onions in a pan over low heat.
  • In another pan, wilt the spinach in the water clinging to its leaves, then season it with salt and pepper. Slice the peppers into wide strips.
  • Toast the bread, then rub one side with the garlic. Cover with the onions, followed by the spinach, the cheese, then the roasted peppers set diagonally across the top.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.


Reprinted with permission from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison. Copyright © 2013 by Deborah Madison. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Craving more veg-friendly recipes? Shop our collection of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Vegetable Literacy for the purpose of this review. The links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links, so if you were to make a purchase from them, I would get a small percentage of the sale, which may or may not be used to purchase elegant wigs for my cats.

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  • Reply
    McKel | Nutrition Stripped
    March 15, 2013 at 6:18 am

    You had me at caramelized onion… this recipe looks so yummy especially on a cool day with toasted bread. Thanks for sharing this Keirsten! Happy Friday 🙂

  • Reply
    Robin (Masshole Mommy)
    March 15, 2013 at 6:23 am

    Those sound fantastic – and now I totally want to run out and get the stuff to make one.

  • Reply
    Jenn @therebelchick
    March 15, 2013 at 10:51 am

    That looks delicious, it would be perfect to serve as an appetizer at a party!

  • Reply
    March 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I adore this book! This weekend is an all-Vegetable-Literacy-all-the-time cooking extravaganza. The tartine looks beautiful – I can’t wait to try it! Like Brian said above, veggie sandwiches are so often a fail. This one definitely is not. 🙂

    • Reply
      March 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      That sounds like my kind of weekend! 🙂

  • Reply
    ashley - baker by nature
    March 16, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Mmmmm this is perfect food for a party!

  • Reply
    March 16, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    These are beautiful! I love caramelized onions, but the time factor means I’ve only made them once or twice. I feel like I could eat a whole tray of these, though.

  • Reply
    Shell Fruscione
    March 17, 2013 at 3:25 am

    I seriously think if my fiancee had to pick three foods to eat for the rest of his life, he’d pick spinach, caramelized onions & pepper. Seriously. Obviously I’m totally making this for him!

    • Reply
      March 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      These would totally be perfect then! 🙂

  • Reply
    Daniela @ FoodrecipesHQ
    March 18, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I’ve checked the way you caramelize the onions. Great tips, thanks!

  • Reply
    [email protected], pleasure, and health
    March 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I feel same about caramelized onions- its worth every stir and waiting by the stove top. Works so well with pizza, bread, salad yum. love the photography of this post too 🙂

  • Reply
    Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie
    March 18, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    That looks delicious and perfect for a weekend lunch – I shall be giving it a go this weekend for sure!
    Gorgeous photos by the way!

    • Reply
      March 19, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      I hope you like them if you make them! 🙂

  • Reply
    March 19, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    I was all like “this looks amazing – great party food!” and then I was like “but what would really make the party amazing is if my cats were wearing wigs!

    • Reply
      March 20, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      That would be the BEST party. And your cats would love it, for sure.

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    March 20, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    All of my favorite things on one sandwich!

  • Reply
    HilLesha @To the Motherhood
    March 20, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    These look really good – totally up my alley! My son and husband would probably hate this, though – such picky eaters! ~lol~

  • Reply
    March 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Do you have a George Foreman Grill? When I worked at a restaurant, we would caramelize onions on it! It totally cut down the time! Just slice, toss with some olive oil, salt, pepper, layer them on the grill, and close the lid! Super easy! Enjoy!

    • Reply
      March 21, 2013 at 7:08 pm

      I don’t have a George Foreman Grill, but I do have a Griddler! I am intrigued. 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply
    Brenda Williams
    March 30, 2013 at 9:09 am

    If this doesn’t make your mouth water, you better check your pulse!

  • Reply
    Lori @ Torontonicity
    April 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    These sandwiches look amazing. I’ve never prepared carmelized onions, but it looks like the time is worth it!

  • Reply
    August 26, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Your recipes are superb. My husband’s vegatarian and he spent 2 years eating the same dish everyday. *poor guy*

    After trying your recipes, he always comes home eager to see what’s on the menu and its just amazing to see that smile on his face.

    thanks for sharing these lovely recipes!

    • Reply
      August 26, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      Thank you for your comment–that totally makes my day! 🙂

  • Reply
    October 14, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    I’m not really a fan of fresh pepper (any unprocessed capsicum family) – but the rest of it looks amazing. Would it still taste good without the pepper or do you have any recommendations for a replacement?

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