PENINSULA KITCHEN: Spring is the season for fresh asparagus sandwiches

EARLY SPRING 1994, my college roommate and I headed off on a grand camping road trip adventure.

We followed the Columbia River out to the coast from our inland college campus and took a left at the Pacific Ocean.


We were adventuring on the cheap as only 19-year-olds are wont to do: sleeping in a tent, cooking dinners on the camp stove, roasting marshmallows over fires we begged neighboring campers to start for us, dipping toes in sand and icy-cold water, collecting shells, throwing rocks, skipping any sort of tourist trap that cost money.

Small indulgences were omitted in favor of a hot coffee in a cafe or the odd dinner out.

Somewhere near the middle of our trip, we had a long driving day, got cranky and couldn’t find a campsite.

Finally, we stopped at an inviting restaurant near the tidelands of the town.

Fresh asparagus

Inside, our welcoming hostess hustled us in and suggested we have the fresh special: asparagus just plucked from a nearby farm on crusty sourdough bread made down the street.

It was topped with Tillamook cheddar from the creamery we’d visited early in the day.

A simple, rustic sandwich, made delightful because of the very fresh and local ingredients.

I do not remember what we talked about by candlelight that night. But I can feel the warmth of the room, smell the nearby ocean breeze and taste that perfect meal.

Every April, when our farmers market boasts a very few weeks with asparagus available, my family makes these sandwiches.


Something akin to alchemy happens when these everyday ingredients are combined.

For a brief moment, I am transported to a wet and dreary Oregon Coast night when my best friend and I took shelter in each other’s company and a delicious, simple dinner.

Open-Face Asparagus Sandwiches

1 bunch local asparagus

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Chewy sourdough bread, sliced


Sharp cheddar cheese

Optional: ripe tomato slices, avocado

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Drizzle olive oil over the spears, then season with salt and pepper.

Toss with your hands until evenly spread out.

Place tray under preheated broiler and roast, turning once, until asparagus are just fork tender and lightly charred.

Remove the tray and place bread under broiler briefly to toast.

To assemble sandwiches: spread mayonnaise lightly on the bread, top with asparagus spears (it’s OK if they hang off the edge of your bread). If using tomato or avocado, place next. Top with sliced cheese.

Return sandwiches to the broiler and heat until the cheese is melted, bubbling and golden brown on the edges.


Carrie Sanford, who shares the Peninsula Kitchen column with Betsy Wharton, is a mother, wife, educator, artist, activist and cook.

She writes the newsletter for Salt Creek Farm in Joyce during the growing season and volunteers with nonprofits and schools in Port Angeles, where she lives with her husband, Tom Sanford, and their daughter, Abby.

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