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

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 chose 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 Bread
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.


Open-Faced Sandwich of Spinach, Caramelized Onions, and Roasted Peppers

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

A rustic open-faced sandwich from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy.

  • Yield: 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


  1. Warm the caramelized onions in a pan over low heat.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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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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. 🙂

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.

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!

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!

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!

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!

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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