One summer I spent a week in Boston, staying with some good friends in their cozy Somerville apartment. A short walk from their house, I discovered 3 Little Figs Bakery & Cafe, and their roasted sweet potato sandwich quickly became a lunchtime ritual.
This sandwich is one of those incredible combinations that's so perfect, you can't believe you never thought of it before: roasted slices of sweet potato, sun-dried tomatoes mixed with goat cheese, a mound of peppery arugula, and chewy whole-grain bread to hold it all together.
Once I returned home and was deprived of my newest favorite lunch, of course I immediately set about recreating it for myself. I bought a fresh jar of sun-dried tomatoes, picked up a loaf of hearty artisan bread, and filled baking sheets with rounds of sweet potatoes. I took one bite of my sandwich creation and knew immediately that something was missing. Something like ... honey.
As weird as a drizzle of honey sounds here, don't skip over it. It's that secret ingredient that elevates this sandwich from "pretty good" to something you crave day after day. Not too much — a few drizzles over the sweet potatoes will do it. You just want a quick surprise of sweetness in each bite.
Another key component to turning this simple sandwich into something extraordinary is choosing good bread. Your average soft grocery store whole-wheat sandwich bread will make a very ho-hum lunch. 3 Little Figs uses a hearty 7-grain sandwich bread that is thick, chewy, and studded with nibbly bits. I also love whole-wheat sourdough with a nice crunchy crust. If the bread is more than a day or two old, I like toasting the slices before making the sandwich.
If you have the chance, I highly recommend a visit to 3 Little Figs in Somerville, Massachusetts. It's such a treat to sit at their sunny window with a coffee and a sandwich, watching the world go by:
→ 3 Little Figs, 278 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA
Roasted Sweet Potato, Goat Cheese & Arugula Sandwiches
Makes 4 sandwiches
2 medium sweet potatoes (3/4 to 1 pound total), scrubbed clean
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 packed cup sun-dried tomatoes
3 ounces goat cheese
8 slices hearty whole-grain artisan sandwich bread
1 to 2 teaspoons honey
2 ounces arugula (4 good handfuls)
Heat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the lower-middle of the oven. Brush a baking sheet with some of the olive oil and set aside.
Slice the sweet potatoes into rounds 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick. Lay them on the baking sheet in a single layer. Brush the tops with more olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake until the rounds are browned, tender, and look toasted on the undersides, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, if your sun-dried tomatoes were packed in oil, place them in a strainer and rinse them under cool water. Pat dry. Mince the tomatoes into small pieces, and then mash them into the goat cheese in a small bowl. Set aside.
→ Recipe Tip: At this point, all the ingredients can be refrigerated for up to a week and individual sandwiches can be assembled as needed.
To assemble, lay two pieces of bread on your work surface. Spread each slice with a tablespoon of the tomato-goat cheese mixture. Add a layer of sweet potato rounds to one of the slices, overlapping them slightly. Drizzle a little honey over the sweet potatoes. Top with a handful of arugula and the second slice of bread.
Repeat as needed to make more sandwiches. Eat immediately or wrap the sandwiches and eat within 4 hours. The prepared sandwiches can be refrigerated, but the bread will stale quickly if left in the fridge for longer than a few hours.
This recipe was first published September 2013.
(Image credits: Emma Christensen)