Cucumber slices.Credit: Forest & Kim StarrCredit: Forest & Kim Starr

1. The Basic Recipe

This is the basic recipe. Here are the ingredients:

  1. Bread
  2. Cucumber slices
  3. Tomato sauce
  4. Apple slices
  5. Reggiano parmesan, or another dry cheese
  6. Salt and Pepper (optional)

Now, here's how to make it without having it fall apart:

  1. Start by spreading tomato sauce on one (or both) of the bread slices.
  2. Add the reggiano parmesan, either in slices or by grating it into a separate bowl and sprinkling it over the bread.
  3. Add the cucumber and apple slices.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (optional)
  5. Add the other slice of bread to the top, and cut in half. Presto! Your winter cucumber sandwich is complete.

Variations on a Sandwich

There are many tricks to perfecting this sandwich. How you perfect it will depend on your own tastes.

Some people like big slices of cucumber, while others like them wafer thin. Others might prefer tomato slices to tomato sauce. If you have time, pre-prepare this sandwich, using different preparation techniques for each one. That way, throughout the week, you can eat these sandwiches and see which way is your favorite.

Here are some variations I've tried, that I loved:

  1. Turn this sandwich into a wrap. Once, I put the ingredients for this sandwich in a large collared green leaf and wrapped it around them. OMG. Not only did this wrap taste delicious, but I found I could put in "chunkier" ingredients (such as hunks of cheese) without making the whole thing fall apart.
  2. Grill this sandwich. Enough said.
  3. Make the cracker version of this sandwich. No, I don't mean adding a big glop of mayonnaise (although you're welcome to try it!). Put tomato sauce, a cucumber slice, cheese and a bit of apple on a cracker––in that order. If it doesn't topple over on the way to your mouth, you'll find it more than satisfactory.

Optional Ingredients

Here are some of my favorite ingredients to add to this sandwich––though not all at the same time! These really add to the flavor, although they may not go well with each other. Try them out for yourself and let me know what you think.

  1. Jicama. I sometimes use this instead of apple slices. If you have a mandoline slicer, this makes it easy to make very thin slices.
  2. Red bell pepper slices. This is especially good in a wrap.
  3. Mushroom slices. I've also occasionally used two portobello mushrooms in place of bread, as well.
  4. Two or more kind of cheese. I recommend reggiano parmesan because it is one of the best cheeses I've ever tasted. Variety being the spice of life, I do like it with jack cheese. Some of the exotic cheese departments will let you buy a thin wedge of an expensive cheese for $1-3, so I try to get those occasionally to see how they taste.
  5. Plum jam.
  6. Lemon juice, especially the juice from meyer lemons. Gives it a bit of a tart flavor that I really like.
  7. Paprika. Spices that "work" with this sandwich are unpredictable. Paprika, I find, gives enough of a kick to the flavor without overpowering it. Korean chili, when used sparingly, adds to the flavor.
  8. Cashew cream. A good alternative to cheese if you're lactose intolerant but not allergic to nuts.

This sandwich is a great way to ward off the winter blues. Once you get the hang of it, it takes five minutes to prepare––if even that. I highly recommend it, and hope you try it for yourself!