Updated Tea Sandwiches With Chilled Avocado-Radish-Basil Soup

This week was my week to host the Food Matters Project and I picked what I figured I would want to make the first few days of July.  Knowing me, I would be eating lots of cucumbers on toast and crackers around this time of the summer.  Knowing me, I wouldn’t want to fire up the stove.  What I didn’t know was that I would be escaping the dry, 95 degree weather in Grand Rapids for a beautiful, breezy weekend in northern lower Michigan…foodie heaven.  For more on all of the wonderful foods and sights I took in this weekend, see my next post!

In my rush to leave my house to enjoy this incredible weekend, I left with very few ingredients for the tea sandwiches.  I packed fresh shelled peas, white and red radishes, English cucumbers, arugula, sunflower sprouts, butter, and bread.  The result was a far cry from the creative updated sandwiches in Bittman’s book but still made for a simple and delicious lunch alongside a nice chilled avocado-radish and basil soup.  Thanks to Meryl and her family for joining me on my culinary adventure and being such gracious taste-testers!  See below for several tea sandwich recipes from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook, for what I did to create my sandwiches, for my update on the updated tea sandwiches (made the radish-walnut sandwiches for lunch after posting this!) and for the avocado-radish-basil soup that my sandwiches were served with.

Aura’s Open Faced Tea Sandwiches

For my tea sandwiches, I spread salted butter on several slices of light wheat toast made by a local bakery (turned out it was a little dry but what do you do!).  I lightly steamed about 1 cup of peas and mashed them with 1 Tbsp butter and 1/2 minced clove of garlic.  I thinly, thinly sliced 2 English cucumbers and 4 radishes.  Next, I assembled! Some slices of bread got spread with garlicky peas and then topped with radishes or cucumber.  Some were dressed plainly with butter then radishes or cucumber.  However you want to make these guys is great–just make any combination of cucumbers, radishes, basil, arugula, sunflower sprouts, peas….you are the artist!

Avocado, Radish, and Basil Soup; From Martha Stewart Living, July 2012

Scoop flesh from 2 chilled avocados (7 to 8 oz each) and puree with 3 cups cold water, 1 and ½ tsp. coarse salt, and 1 and ½ cups basil leaves in a blender until smooth.  Add 3 trimmed large radishes, and pulse until chunky, about 4 times.  Season with freshly ground black pepper.  Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.  Stir well, and garnish with julienned radish and basil leaves before serving.  Serves 5.

Above:  open faced radish walnut tea sandwiches–recipe below

Updated Tea Sandwiches; from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook

Tea sandwiches may be old-fashioned, but they’re easy to modernize and not at all gimmicky.  (The classic is plain cucumber and butter—you don’t get much less gimmicky than that.)  Consider these as a springboard to your own combinations. 

In general, the bread is fine-crumbed and sliced thin, the fillings are fresh, and there is little or no lag between making and serving.  All of this makes homemade whole wheat sandwich bread perfect, but really any loaf with a dense texture, relatively soft crust, and fine crumb is good.

Seasonal vegetables are almost universally well suited for small sandwiches—even leftover roasted or grilled vegetables or salads.  Just make sure the ingredients are drained of any dressing or marinade and chopped up a bit, which makes the sandwiches easier to cut and eat.

You can, of course, add a little cheese or meat to many tea sandwiches.  Try blending crumbled feta or blue cheese or grated Parmesan in with the pesto-like spreads.  Or before closing the sandwiches, sprinkle the fillings with crumbled bacon or add a thin shard of prosciutto, roast beef or pork, or shredded grilled chicken.

Cucumber-Wasabi Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  10 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon wasabi powder, or more to taste
  • 8 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably whole wheat
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped watercress
  • Salt and black pepper

Combine the mayonnaise and wasabi in a small bowl.  Spread a thin layer of this mixture on each of the bread slices.  Top half the bread slices with the cucumber and watercress.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, close the sandwiches, cut each into quarters on the diagonal, and serve.

Gingered Pea Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  10 minutes

  • 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter or olive oil, or more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 8 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably whole wheat

Mash the peas with the butter or oil and ginger until the mixture is pasty but not smooth; add a little more butter or oil if necessary to make the peas spreadable.  (You can make the filling ahead to this point, cover, and refrigerate for up to a day; return to room temperature before proceeding.)  Add the mint and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  1. Smear about ¼ cup of the filling on 4 of the bread slices and top to make sandwiches.  Cut each into quarters on the diagonal and serve.

Pumpkin-Apple Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  10 minutes with cooked or canned pumpkin

  • ½ cup mashed or pureed cooked pumpkin or winter squash (good quality canned is okay)
  • 2 green apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 8 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably multigrain
  • ½ teaspoon coriander or cinnamon
  • Salt and black pepper

Spread a thin layer of the pumpkin or squash on each of the bread slices.  Top half the bread slices with the apple.  Season with the spice and a little salt and pepper, close the sandwiches, cut each into quarters on the diagonal, and serve.

Egg and Olive Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  10 minutes with already cooked eggs

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup good quality green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 8 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably whole wheat
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Combine the mayonnaise, olives, and spinach in a small bowl.  Spread a thin layer of the mixture on half of the bread slices; smear the rest of the slices with the mustard.
  2. Put the hard-boiled egg on top of the mustard, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and close the sandwiches, pressing down slightly to seal.  Cut each sandwich into quarters on the diagonal and serve.

Radish-Walnut Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  20 minutes

  • ½ pound radishes
  • 1 cup arugula
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 8 thin slices bread, preferably whole wheat baguette
  1. Pulse the radishes in a food processor until they’re chopped up a bit but not pureed; remove, scraping what you can out of the bowl.
  2. Combine the arugula, walnuts, and orange zest in the processor and, with the machine on, drizzle in the oil, adding enough to make a paste.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Spread a thin layer of the walnut mixture on each of the bread slices.  Top half the slices with the radishes, close the sandwiches, cut each into small sandwiches on the diagonal (or into quarters if you are using sandwich bread), and serve.
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15 thoughts on “Updated Tea Sandwiches With Chilled Avocado-Radish-Basil Soup

    1. auracaplett Post author

      My primary goal in life right now is to avoid overheating! I made a cucumber-carrot-radish salad today with a light lemon-parsley vinaigrette. Cool foods are the way to go right now!

      Reply
  1. Lexi

    Hi Aura! I posted a comment yesterday and I wonder where it went ???? Anyway you made a great pick this week and I love your post. That soup look delish!

    Reply

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