Open Secret: Israeli Sandwiches That Make the Perfect Summer Meal

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Avocado, feta and sprouts open-faced sandwich
Avocado, feta and sprouts open-faced sandwich.Credit: Vered Guttman

When done right, a simple sandwich can become the center of any meal. In fact, growing up in Israel, an open-faced sandwich spread with a simple avocado salad, mixed with olives and green onion, was often the main course, along with a large Israeli salad and sunny-side-up egg.

Lazy days of summer are perfect for these Mediterranean open-faced sandwiches.

Avocado, feta and sprouts open-faced sandwich

A slice of bread spread with avocado and sprinkled with a little salt is as simple as it is delicious – and Israelis indulge in this treat on a daily basis.

The version here is influenced by the Greek combination of avocado, feta and olive oil.

Serve with fruit or large green salad for a full summer meal. (Serves 4)

2 ripe avocados
2 tsp. lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt
4 thick slices of sourdough bread (I used pain de campagne)
12 kalamata olives, pitted and halved
6 oz. feta
½ cup sprouts (your favorite type)
1 Thai chili pepper or Serrano, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil

* Slice open avocado vertically and remove pit, scoop avocado into a bowl, mix in lemon juice and a pinch of salt, and use a fork to mash until spreadable (small chunks of avocado are fine). Spread generously on bread.
* Arrange halved olives on each slice and crumble feta on top. Spread sprouts on feta and sprinkle with sliced chili pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.

Tunisian-style tuna and preserved lemon open-faced sandwich

A simple combination of canned tuna, harissa, olives and olive oil in a fried bun (fricasse) is enjoyed in Tunisia, and some parts of Israel, with the addition of hard-boiled eggs, potatoes and preserved lemon. Here’s a simple homage to the Tunisian sandwich.

Tunisian-style tuna and preserved lemon open-faced sandwich.Credit: Vered Guttman

Preserved lemon and harissa are available at some health-food supermarkets (Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s carry them), as well as Middle Eastern and Israeli supermarkets. (Serves 4)

4 eggs
2 x 7 oz. cans tuna in olive oil
½ small fennel (or 4 celery stalks), diced
¼ cup chopped preserved lemon
cup mayonnaise
1-2 tsp. harissa
4 slices of sourdough bread (I used pain de campagne)
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves

* Bring 3 cups of salted water to boil in a small pot over a medium-high heat. Use a spoon to place eggs into boiling water and cook for exactly 7 minutes. Drain water and fill pot with cold water to stop the eggs cooking. Keep in cold water until ready to serve.

* In the meantime, prepare the tuna salad. Strain tuna from oil and transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Add diced fennel, preserved lemon and mayonnaise and mix gently, breaking down tuna chunks. Add harissa to taste, one teaspoon at a time, since some varieties can be very spicy.

* Spread each bread slice with a thick layer of tuna salad. Gently peel eggs, slice and place on each slice of bread. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve.

Labneh, heirloom tomato and avocado open-faced sandwich

The perfect season for the simplest sandwich.

Labneh is available at Middle Eastern stores, some kosher supermarkets and at Whole Foods. (Serves 4)

2-3 heirloom tomatoes of different colors
Kosher salt
1 avocado
¼ small red onion
4 thick slices of sourdough bread
¾ cup labneh
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil

* Cut tomatoes into very thin slices, arrange on a paper towel-lined tray, sprinkle with a little salt, and let stand for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

* Slice avocado in half vertically, remove pit, slice avocado very thinly inside skin, set aside. Slice red onion very thinly, set aside.

* Spread each bread slice generously with labneh. Top with a layer of tomatoes, scoop avocado from skin and arrange on top of tomatoes; sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper, then top with sliced onion. Drizzle a little olive oil and serve.

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