I'm lucky to live in an area with lots of amazing parks and trails. So every spring, as soon as the weather begins to warm up, hitting those trails is priority for my husband and I. We're really bad at planning though. In fact, we really don't plan these outings at all—usually they're pretty spur of the moment. Every year we talk about how nice it would be to pack a lunch and spend the entire afternoon in the outdoors, but inevitably we forget, and hunger is what brings us back home.
This year I'm on it though. My strategy: keep food on hand that I can pack up super fast and make a meal of. The first item on the menu: these beet sandwiches.
I've made beet sandwiches before, but it just recently occurred to me what great packed lunch material they make. Sliced up roasted beets are like a vegetarian version of cold cuts. Keep them on hand, along with a supply of the creamy dill cashew cheese that's used in this recipe, and you've got a sandwich that can be assembled in all of five minutes.
Usually when I eat beets as a side dish at home I roast them and dress them in some balsamic vinegar, so that's how I prepared the beets for these sandwiches. I love the way the tangy flavor of the vinegar pairs with the sweetness of the beets. The dairy-free creamy cheese is made from a simple blend of some raw cashews with dill, garlic, and lemon juice. The recipe makes a nice big batch of the cheese, but any leftovers can be frozen for future sandwiches.
For the balsamic roasted beets:
- 4 medium beets scrubbed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the creamy dill cashew cheese:
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked in water 4 to 8 hours, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup unflavored soy or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ cup chopped fresh dill
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the sandwiches:
- 8 slices sandwich bread optionally toasted
- 4 large lettuce leaves
- 1 small red onion sliced
Make the balsamic roasted beets:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Lightly rub the outsides of the beets with olive oil, then set them on a sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap up the foil to cover the beets, and place the entire foil packet into the oven. Bake until the beets are easily pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Remove the beets from the oven, open the foil, and allow them to to sit until they're cool enough to handle.
- Once the beets are cool, rub the outsides to remove the skin. It should come off easily.
- Cut the beets into thin (¼ inch or less) slices and place them into a medium bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Make the creamy dill cashew cheese:
- Place the cashews, milk, lemon juice, and garlic into a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl or pitcher as needed. You can thin the mixture with some additional milk if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add in the dill and pulse until incorporated into the mixture.
Assemble the sandwiches:
- Slather the bread slices with the creamy dill cashew cheese, then pair them up and stuff them with beet slices, onion slices, and lettuce. Serve.