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You no longer have to make a beeline for Dalston with these three sandwich-filling recipes from famed bakery The Dusty Knuckle.
“There is no secret to the perfect sandwich: it just needs good fillings and good bread,” states The Dusty Knuckle co-founder Rebecca Oliver in the bakery’s cookbook. A statement we couldn’t agree more heartily with. While for some, a sandwich may bring up connotations of sad and soggy packed lunches or plastic-wrapped options eaten on a hurried break from work, but when given the appropriate time, care and attention, the sandwich can be something extra special.
And when it comes to sandwiches, the founders of The Dusty Knuckle know a thing or two (word of warning, don’t look its Instagram page when hungry). The ever-popular Dalston bakery has achieved cult-like status since opening in 2014 – consistently offering incredible freshly baked bread, coffees and of course, fully-loaded sarnies. So we couldn’t be more excited that through their debut cookbook, the founders are letting us in on a selection of their recipes.
There are no limits when it comes to sandwiches and what can be put in them. As Rebecca writes “Most things taste better between two slices of freshly baked bread.” From an oozing grilled cheese to a spicy, crunchy and fresh banh mi or even generously packed steak sandwich, there are simply too many options to choose from when it comes to picking favourites, but if you’re looking for some fresh sarnie inspiration, we’re sharing three elevated, vegetarian sandwich-filling recipes from the book. “You could sack off the bread and put them on a nice plate and they will become a perfectly delightful starter or main,” writes Rebecca, so don’t expect a simple ham and cheese to be on the cards.
To start, we have cauliflower with tamarind and date sauce, pumpkin seed tahini and coriander and lime chutney. The vegan filling consists of heavily spiced roasted cauliflower florets, which are then paired with a fresh mint and vinegar-laced salad, not to mention the addition of not one, but three sauces and chutneys to achieve a sandwich that’s far from average.
Remaining vegetarian – but side-stepping veganism in favour of eggs and cheese – next up is a filling of charred celeriac, green sauce and Lincolnshire poacher cheese. The hearty celeriac takes centre stage, impeccably supported by punchy cheese, lemony salad and a perfectly fried egg.
And last but by no means least is the roasted Jerusalem artichoke, red onion, olives and herbs filling. Roasted garlicky artichokes are paired with jammy soft-boiled eggs, sharp olives and a tangy dijon dressing to create the ideal summer sarnie. As the founders note, the filling also works great as a salad without the bread, but we’re never ones to turn down carbs.
Cauliflower with tamarind and date sauce, pumpkin seed tahini and coriander and lime chutney
Daisy, Rebecca and Max say: “This is a hearty vegan recipe and if you get the balance between the sour tamarind and creamy pumpkin right, it is a party in your mouth. It uses a lot of condiments so ensure you read the whole recipe before setting sail. We would serve this in our vegan Soft-as-Anything White Milk Buns, but it is equally delicious in focaccia. Cut the cauliflower into large florets, keeping the white outer leaves and the stalk, and chopping them into chunks. Mix the curry powder, garam masala, coriander and cumin seeds, methi (fenugreek) leaves (if using), olive oil, salt and sugar in a bowl big enough to fit the cauliflower and onion. Add the cauliflower and onion and coat them in the mix. You can roast immediately or leave in the fridge for up to 24 hours.”
For the cauliflower:
- 1 medium cauliflower
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp each of coriander and cumin seeds, ground
- pinch of dried methi (fenugreek) leaves (optional)
- 50ml (3 tbsp) olive oil
- large pinch of sea salt
- pinch of sugar
- ½ red onion, peeled and
- cut into 4 chunks
For the salad:
- 1/4 red onion, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- pinch of sea salt
- grinding of pepper
- handful of coriander leaves
- handful of mint leaves
- handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 10ml (2 tsp) extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 white milk buns (vegan or otherwise)
- Coriander and Lime Chutney (see below)
- Pumpkin Seed Tahini (see below)
- Tamarind and Date Sauce (see below)
Heat your oven to 220°C/200°C fan, tip the cauliflower and onion into a roasting tray and roast for about 20 minutes, until dark, roasted and crispy at the edges. Keep moving them around to ensure you get an even colour. Remove and keep warm.
For the salad, put the red onion, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl and leave for 10 minutes, then add the herbs and olive oil and give a light mix.
Cut open your buns, spread a dollop of Coriander and Lime Chutney on one side of each bun. Dress your warm cauliflower and red onion in a few good tablespoons of Pumpkin Seed Tahini and dollop some of the tahini onto the other side of each bun. Top with a handful of salad and a generous drizzle of Tamarind and Date Sauce.
Pumpkin seed tahini
This is impossible to make without a food processor. It keeps in a container in the fridge for up two weeks and it also works as a great breakfast spread with some honey.
Makes 1 large jar
- 300g pumpkin seeds
- a few pinches of salt, or more to taste
- 50ml (3 tbsp) neutral-tasting oil
Heat your oven to 170°C/150°C. Mix the pumpkin seeds with the salt and spread out on a roasting tray. Roast for 15 minutes, checking after 10, until slightly browned. Remove and leave to cool.
Blitz the cooled roasted seeds in a food processor to a fine powder. When you have reached this point, add the oil. Start by adding 25ml (1 1/2 tbsp) of oil and keep adding gradually until you have a loose but emulsified sauce – you can add a splash of water if it isn’t binding.
Check the salt and add more if needed.
Coriander and lime chutney
This is great served with curry or for a random dipping sauce, and will keep (covered in oil) for a week in the fridge. This has a bit of heat to it so reduce the amount of chillies if you prefer.
Makes about 250ml
- 4 fresh green chillies, stalks removed
- 1 lime, halved
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil, plus extra if needed
- 3 bunches of coriander, leaves picked, half the lower stalks removed, the rest of the stalks and leaves roughly chopped (approximately 300g)
- 1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
Put a frying pan over a high heat and, when just smoking, turn the heat down to medium and add your chillies, one lime half (skin and all) and garlic. Toast in the dry pan for three to four minutes, turning every 30 seconds or so to get an even char. Leave them to cool for a few minutes, then blitz in a food processor with the salt. Add the oil, followed by the coriander (cilantro) and blitz again to form a coarse paste. Transfer to a bowl and add the juice from the remaining lime half (about 1 tablespoon), sugar and a splash more oil if it needs it. It should be a loose chutney consistency.
Tamarind and date sauce
This is sweet and sour and lovely with a soft buttered bun. We use this for our cauliflower sandwich recipe, as well as the Vada Pav. This makes more than you will need in any given recipe in the book, but it seems worthwhile to make more, as it keeps for a few weeks in the fridge. It works as a great condiment and is especially tasty instead of chutney in cheese sandwiches.
Makes about 250ml
- 100g tamarind paste with seeds
- 35g medjool dates
- 330ml hot water
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 60g jaggery or brown sugar
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch deggi mirch chilli powder (optional)
- 3/4cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and minced
Soak the tamarind paste and dates in the hot water in a bowl for 1 hour.
Place the cumin in a dry frying pan over a medium heat. After two to three minutes you will start to hear them crackling softly; shake the pan around and leave for a further 30 seconds until toasted, then take off the heat immediately and grind in a pestle and mortar, blender or with your knife on a chopping board.
Strain the dates and tamarind through a sieve into a saucepan, using the back of a spoon to push through as much of the liquid as possible (discard the solids, or compost them). Add the jaggery, salt, chilli powder and ginger to the pan.
Simmer over a low heat until nice and thick (slightly wetter than brown sauce) then add the toasted ground cumin. Adjust the seasoning if needed and leave to cool before using.
Charred celeriac, green sauce and lincolnshire poacher cheese
Daisy, Rebecca and Max say: “Charred celeriac is delicious, meaty and tender; it works really well with the tangy sauce and sweetness from the cheese. This is great as a breakfast plate as well as a sandwich – throw in a fried egg to make it more breakfast-y.”
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 medium celeriac, peeled and sliced into 2.5cm (1 inch) rounds
- 4 handfuls of grated Lincolnshire Poacher cheese (failing that, a strong Cheddar)
- 4 pieces of focaccia, cut in half horizontally
- sea salt
- 4 generous tbsp Green Sauce, to serve
For the herb and red onion salad:
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- sprinkling of good-quality red wine vinegar
- 4 handfuls of mixed fresh herbs (coriander/cilantro, mint and parsley)
- Lemon Dressing (see below)
Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the olive oil and one teaspoon of salt, along with the bay leaf and peppercorns.
Add the celeriac slices and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes, until a sharp knife can go through the middle easily. Transfer the celeriac to a dish and drizzle with oil so they don’t dry out (keep the water; it makes a great veg stock).
Meanwhile, for the salad, sprinkle the red onion with vinegar and a pinch of salt, and place in a serving bowl with the herbs.
Heat a heavy-based large frying pan or griddle pan over a medium heat and add as many oiled celeriac pieces as will fit without overlapping (you may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan). Brown on each side until they are a rich caramel colour, about two to three minutes each side. Add a handful of grated cheese and put a lid on.
In a hot frying pan, toast the focaccia halves on the inside until just browned.
When the cheese has melted, transfer the cheesy celeriac pieces to one half of the focaccia (or a plate), drizzle over some Green Sauce and serve alongside the herb and red onion salad dressed with the Lemon Dressing. Repeat with the remaining celeriac and cheese.
Serve with a fried egg, if you like.
When a dressing is nice, you should want to eat lots of it. We like to eat lots of this dressing mostly because it uses a delicious, very sweet vinegar made from Moscatel grapes. The particular brand we get is called UNIO and is from London-based Spanish specialist Brindisa but there are loads of other great vinegars from all sorts of stockists. A warning: they aren’t cheap, but will last far longer than an equivalent priced wine – a sound investment. However, with enough salt, lemon and sugar you can hide a multitude of sins so if you don’t have posh vinegar or aren’t convinced by our hard-sell then you can replace it with any old vinegar with some compensatory sugar added.
Makes about 6 tbsp
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tsp vinegar, ideally Moscatel
- Pinch each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix all the ingredients together, adjusting seasoning as needed.
Roasted Jerusalem artichoke, red onion, olives and herbs
Daisy, Rebecca and Max say: “This is a lovely sandwich filling, but it also works well as a salad. We have added the classic anchovy and egg combo and loads of fresh dill and parsley. If you want to make it veggie then leave out the anchovies.”
- 8 Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and halved lengthways
- 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
- ½ head of garlic (cut in half horizontally)
- 2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- ½ quantity Sweet Red Onions (see below), ideally warm
- 2 small handfuls of green olives, pitted and halved
- 80g watercress
- 4 stalks dill
- 4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, leaves picked
- 4 pieces of focaccia, cut in half horizontally
- 4 soft-boiled eggs (boiled for 6 minutes)
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
For the mustard dressing:
- 3 anchovy fillets in oil, very finely chopped (optional)
- 1 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp honey
- 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan.
In a roasting tray, mix the artichokes with the oil, garlic and thyme, and roast for 40–45 minutes until tender all the way through and caramelised. You may need to turn the artichokes halfway through to ensure they are golden on all sides. Remove and set aside. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the softened garlic cloves from their skins and add to a bowl to use for the dressing.
For the dressing, if using anchovies, melt them over a low heat in a small pan with a drizzle of oil for a couple of minutes. You’ll need to break them up with a wooden spoon. When completely melted, add them to the bowl of roasted garlic, along with the rest of the dressing ingredients, giving a good whisk (or just mix the ingredients without anchovies, if not using). You will need to whisk hard in order to emulsify it properly. Add some water if you are struggling to bind it all. Season to your liking.
Dress the warm artichokes and Sweet Red Onion generously with the mustard dressing (roughly 1 teaspoon of dressing per large handful of ingredients) and add the olives. Carefully fold in the watercress and three quarters of the herbs, adding more dressing if you think it needs it. Serve on a plate or between slices of focaccia, topped with an egg, a final sprinkling of the remaining herbs, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
Sweet red onions
These onions are another great thing to have in the fridge. You can use them in sandwiches, as quick pickles, toppings for focaccia or in salads. They are very easy to make but you do need to bear the following in mind: in cutting the onions, by wedges we mean smaller than chunks but thicker than slices. At The Dusty Knuckle we have come to know them as ‘petals’ (finding specific descriptions for certain shapes in the bakery is a particular talent of Daisy’s). Also, make sure you use a heavy-based pan and get it very hot before you add the oil, and don’t add the vinegar until right at the end, off the heat, to avoid burning it. If you want a fresher taste for a nice salad, you can omit the hard herbs and add roughly chopped fresh mint to the onions once cooled.
Makes 8 portions
- 2 red onions
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 2 fresh thyme or oregano sprigs
- 2 generous pinches of sea salt
- 1 tbsp good-quality red wine
- vinegar (add a pinch of sugar is using a cheaper brand)
- sugar, to taste (if needed)
Peel the onions and cut in half lengthways, root to tip. Cut each half into wedges about 1cm thick at their widest point.
Heat a small to medium, heavy-based frying pan over a high heat until hot, about two minutes. Add the oil, followed immediately by the onions, garlic, thyme and salt. Give it a good stir. Once slightly browned (about 90 seconds), and not too dark (or they will turn bitter), remove from the heat and add the vinegar. Taste, and add salt/sugar/vinegar to taste, then tip into a bowl, ensuring you have scraped out any sticky goodness. Leave the garlic and thyme in there to give flavour, and store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
The Dusty Knuckle: Seriously Good Bread, Knockout Sandwiches and Everything In Between by Max Tobias, Rebecca Oliver and Daisy Terry (£20, Quadrille) is out now
Photography: Matt Russell