Open-Faced Vegan Caprese Sandwiches, or Vegan Caprese Tartines if you’re fancy. I actually only learned what a tartine is a few years ago, after we left San Francisco and had been frequenting the famous bakery by the same name for months. Better late than never, right?
Before I gush about my new favorite
sandwich tartine, I have to confess that I am perhaps a little delirious with the exhaustion from moving, and the stress that comes with buying your first home. All-in-all, things went smoothly despite several fire drills along the way, and as I look around me at the light pouring into our new, open, and beautiful space, I keep asking, “Is this real? Do I actually live here now?” It’s so different from our last apartment in the best possible ways.
And that last rental apartment. Things ended on a rather sour note, unfortunately. In our five years total there (two pre-San Francisco, and three post-SF), we really did make it a point to treat it as our own—from re-painting the walls white (and purchasing several hundred dollars worth of supplies to do so), to regularly shoveling the snow around the front and back of the building, to watering the plants and taking out the building’s recycling when the landlord was in Israel for weeks at a time. He was appreciative and would leave us baked goods or gift cards as a thank you, and we gently reminded him multiple times that he needed to turn on the heat in the winter, overlooked it when it took him a year to fix a wasp infestation that made our porch unusable, or when he would schedule construction projects without notice that dragged on for a full year and started at 8am even on Sundays. We also used the back door to take the dogs outside after his wife complained that they made the entryway smell (insulting and completely untrue). Basically, we let a lot of things slide over the years because we thought he was a nice guy despite his difficult wife, and that’s just part of being a good neighbor.
When we moved out on Friday, I spent several hours cleaning the apartment, and then we came back Saturday morning and spent another half day scrubbing it down some more. It was the casual exchange we had made for our landlord letting us stay on a few extra days to accommodate our condo close date. And after we finished cleaning, we walked upstairs to his place to turn in our keys and do a final walkthrough, saying to each other how we were leaving the apartment in so much better condition than we found it. Our landlord didn’t answer his door, though we could hear his cell phone and footsteps inside and see his car parked outside.
After numerous calls, we finally got through to him late Sunday afternoon and were told that he was disappointed with how we left the place and would be taking a substantial amount of money from our security deposit. We swallowed our pride and went back that night to clean it to his liking, where I was greeted by his very unpleasant wife, who pointed to two crumbs in the fridge, rust on the old stove she swore was our fault, discoloration on the 100+ year old bathroom tiles and inside the lid of the toilet, among many, many other ridiculous things—it was immediately apparent that there was no winning. When we pointed out that the apartment had not been professionally cleaned before we moved in (something I never saw them do to any of the units in the five years we were there), she denied it and insisted it was spotless. Aaron and I scrubbed for another two and a half hours and then left after the owner returned to shyly tell us he would be mailing us our security deposit.
The experience reminded me of a few lessons I’ve learned several times in life, and which will hopefully stick this time:
1. People often get weird when you end a lease or leave a job, even if you felt like there was a mutual friendship there.
2. Any time money is involved, you need to remember it’s a business transaction and keep a level of formality. All it takes is one passive aggressive exchange to create ill-will and the whole thing can go south fast.
3. Take photos as documentation. You never know when you’ll need to reference them.
4. Don’t underestimate the comfort a good meal can bring when you’re emotionally and physically spent. Especially a good sandwich.
This vegan caprese tartine is based on one of my favorite salad recipes from a couple of years ago. For my latest rendition, I used both avocado and pressed, extra firm tofu in place of the mozzarella, and dressed it all up with a sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar reduction. It’s one very messy, very comforting sandwich that’s super quick to assemble. Serve it atop your favorite toasted sandwich bread, sit in the sunshine, and I think there’s a good chance you’ll feel more centered after you eat it.
Open-Faced Vegan Caprese Sandwiches
Prep Time: 1 hour 5 mins
Your favorite caprese salad, veganized and in sandwich form. With creamy avocado and chewy, dense, pressed tofu--I promise you won't miss the cheese.
Copyright © 2023 Amanda Maguire for Pickles & Honey