Monday, February 22, 2010

The vegetarian panini

If you are coming to New York and want to take your vegetarian family out for lunch, or an early dinner, 'sNice, in the West Village (there’s another location, in Park Slope) is perfect. The sort of self-service restaurant – you wait on line to order, but your food is brought to you – has about a dozen sandwiches, a couple of huge salads, and a daily soup. Some food is vegan, all is vegetarian and everything is delicious. There are fake meat versions of traditional sandwiches, like a Cuban, with soy ham and pickles, a tempeh Rueben, with sauerkraut, and a Thai ‘chicken’ wrap, but don’t get your heart set on a particular sandwich; the menu rotates. The quinoa salad sometimes skimps on the avocado slices, but is quite filling, and the autumn salad, with cranberries, bleu cheese and walnuts, is available year round.

One note: cash only.

The city ‘snice is 45 Eighth Ave., near 4th St. The Brooklyn branch is at 315 5th Ave.,

near 3rd St.

A stand-out ‘sNice sandwich, the vegan Panini, is particularly easy to replicate at home. I pressed a block of tofu between two cutting boards, weighting it down with my Nespresso maker (you could also use a heavy pot, like Le Creuset, or maybe a left-over fruitcake). When you press tofu like this, it takes on the consistency of cheese, or paneer, but gives you more protein. I love cheese, but if you have a cheese sandwich every day for lunch, you are eating a lot of fat.

Spread a Ciabatta with pesto sauce and add tofu slices and a couple of oil packed sun-dried tomatoes. That’s it. This is also a great sandwich to pack in a lunchbox.

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