If you are a local (Washington DC area) and you have not yet tried Junction Bakery & Bistro, wait no further. You will find high ceilings, big windows, beautiful floor tiles, not your usual pastries (chia and quinoa or chocolate and hazelnut bars), great coffee and a small but exciting menu.
I’ve been going there with a friend and with the family, but mostly for lunch with baby Cecilia after our music class on Fridays (our version of “ladies who lunch”). I’ve tried the chicken liver pâté with onion jam, golden quinoa with a poached egg, fried olives, short rib grilled cheese, and the sweet potato sandwich. After my forth time ordering the latter in the span of a few weeks, it was time to start recreating it at home and to share it with you. The combination of creamy roasted sweet potato, roasted mushrooms, melted gruyère and spiced pepitas inside thin slices of buttered and grilled fresh multigrain bread is to die for.
Now, I know you may not want to go out of your way to roast a sweet potato forever in the oven just to make a sandwich, which comes to mind as something quick and easy. So go ahead and plan for it, make the sandwiches for an easy but impressive lunch, and while you are at it, roast more potatoes and make a sweet potato purée for dinner or a meal the next day. Either way, you will not regret the investment in the little extra planning.
SWEET POTATO GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH
roasted sweet potato
pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
fresh multigrain bread, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400F. Prick the potato with a fork and roast it on a foil lined shallow baking sheet in the center of the oven for about 1 hour (or about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the potato). After the potato has cooled, scrape the interior and mash it with a fork. You can roast 3 -4 large ones at this time and make purée
for another meal.
Remove stems and toss the mushrooms with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. In the last 15 minutes of roasting the sweet potato, add the mushrooms to the roasting pan. After they have cooled a bit, coarsely chop.
In a small bowl, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of pepitas, drizzle a bit of olive oil sprinkle a bit of smoked paprika and cumin and toss to combine.
Assemble the sandwich by spreading sweet potato, sprinkling salt and pepper on it and topping it with a bit of mushrooms, grated cheese and seasoned pepitas. Don’t press the sandwich too much or it will be a mess to grill, just slightly to keep it together.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium-low heat and cook sandwich, covered, about 2 minutes per side or until brown.
I skipped the exact amounts of each ingredient in the recipe since it is really up to you how much filling you want in your sandwich. I found that in this case, less is more. Serve it with a little green salad on the side and you are all set.
Instead of melting butter on the skillet you can spread butter on the outer sides of the bread slices and grill the sandwich on medium-low heat, 2 minutes per side or until brown.