FOOD: Well-traveled sandwiches for backpacks, beach bags and baskets; local chefs share recipes

This traditional caprese sandwich includes mozzarella, but Catherine Renzi suggests her Goat-za-rella instead.
This traditional caprese sandwich includes mozzarella, but Catherine Renzi suggests her Goat-za-rella instead. PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN
Try this veggie version of a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich.
Try this veggie version of a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. PHOTO BY EMILY RYAN


Apricot Coconut Diamonds


1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

¾ cup unsalted butter

1 cup grated coconut

½ cup chopped nuts

1 large egg

½ teaspoon salt

1 (10-ounce) jar apricot jam (or substitute your favorite fruit jam)


Mix together with a fork all but the last ingredient. Press three-fourths of the batter in bottom of 9-by-13-inch pan. Spread jam. Drop the rest of the batter over the jam. Let some of the jam show through. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until a light, golden brown. Cool. Cut into desired shape. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Makes 12 to 20 bars.


Imagine hiking a sun-dappled trail through the woods. Around a bend, you spot a sparkling lake and stop to enjoy the view. You reach in your backpack and pull out … a protein bar? Make that a hearty sandwich instead.

We’re talking “summertime fun, cold food that no one has to turn on the oven for, lots of good nutrition,” said Catherine Renzi of Yellow Springs Farm in Chester Springs. “My husband likes to go out fly fishing, and we certainly like to hike.”

She packs fruit, iced tea and sandwiches, featuring the farm’s artisanal goat cheeses like Goat-za-rella, a riff on mozzarella.

“Most people think of buffalo mozzarella, and buffalo milk is in some ways similar to goat milk,” explained Renzi, who combines Goat-za-rella, heirloom tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar.


“I like the textures and flavors,” she added. “I think it looks beautiful, and I know we all first taste with our eyes.”

Another option: a Mediterranean pita sandwich.

“The pita pocket is fun,” Renzi said, “because if you don’t cut it open too much when you stuff it, it is very neat.”

So is chef Art Roman’s “bring-along boule” — a ball-shaped loaf that he hollows out and layers with favorite fillings.

“It is like a muffuletta,” described the owner of The Kitchen Workshop in Paoli. “Everything will be encased by the bread.”

Or try a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich on a baguette.

“They’re just the most delicious sandwiches, I think, because you can put anything on them,” said chef George Bieber of Shorty’s Sunflower Cafe in Pottstown and The Sunflower Truck Stop.

His backpack-friendly version includes hummus, cucumber, cilantro, carrot, grilled zucchini and jalapeño.

“Wrap it up and take it wherever you want,” he encouraged. “I would probably be hiking on a mountain or wooded path somewhere.”

Caprese Sandwiches with Goat-za-rella


1 baguette or ciabatta bread

1 pound Goat-za-rella cheese

1 bunch basil

2 pounds heirloom tomatoes

Extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Aged balsamic vinegar, to drizzle

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Coarse salt, to taste


Slice the bread, ciabatta or baguette, lengthwise. Slice the heirloom tomatoes and the cheese into ¼-inch-thick pieces. You may lightly warm or toast the bread, or just use a fresh loaf at room temperature. Drizzle the baguette with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Layer the tomatoes and cheese on the bread and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with basil leaves and sandwich the slices of bread together. Cut into four sandwiches and serve immediately.

This sandwich is all about the ingredients. Buy the very best olive oil and balsamic vinegar that your budget will allow. Freshly picked tomatoes and basil are found readily during August too. Local, fresh Goat-za-rella is made with sea salt and quality goat milk - no additives. Taste the difference!


Mediterranean Pita Sandwich


1 pita pocket, white or whole wheat

3 ounces hummus

1½ ounces Iron Springs goat cheese, coarsely shredded on box grater or diced with knife

Shredded carrots, diced tomatoes and cucumbers — about 2 tablespoons of each

3 cured black olives, pitted and diced

Olive oil, to drizzle

Salt and pepper, to taste


Slice open pita pocket on one end. Spread hummus on both inside faces. Mix and toss other ingredients in a bowl, and add to center of pocket. The smoked paprika and oregano in the Iron Springs really add a nice flavor to this pita sandwich. Enjoy!


Shorty’s Veggie Banh Mi


1 crusty French baguette

16 ounces hummus

1 cucumber, sliced thin

1 carrot, grated or fine julienne

1 jalapeño, sliced thin

1 cup cilantro, rough chopped

1 zucchini, sliced, grilled with olive oil and garlic


Carefully slice the baguette lengthwise. Spread the hummus inside the bread. Evenly spread your vegetables along the hummus-covered bread. Close the sandwich. Eat immediately or wrap it up to take with on a fun summer trip to the beach, park, hiking path, etc.


Bring-along Boule


1 boule (rustic, ball-shaped loaf of bread)

Extra-virgin olive oil



Sun-dried tomatoes

Roasted red peppers, well-drained

Kalamata olives

Marinated mushrooms

Artichoke hearts


Slice top off boule and reserve. Hollow out the loaf. Spread olive oil on the bottom and build eight to 10 layers of filling. (If bringing a cooler, can add meats and cheeses.) Replace top, wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to take on a picnic or hike. Cut into wedges on site.