Just remind yourself that salmon and avocado have healthy fats, and enjoy it. Balance it out with some sliced veggies and a piece of fresh fruit.
I usually avoid taking sandwiches for lunch because of the morning prep that they require. You can’t make them the night before unless you’re okay with damp bread and limp lettuce. The time it takes to cut the tomato and onion and cucumbers, layer everything correctly in order to minimize the chance of anything getting soggy before lunch, carefully peel off one piece of cheese without little corners of it sticking to any of the others in the package and breaking… Those could be the precious 10 minutes between waking up at 5:50 versus waking up at 6:00. Huge psychological difference and totally not worth it. (Granted, this is coming from someone who is so categorically not a morning person that she packs her bag, sets up the coffee pot, makes her breakfast, and picks out her clothes the night before for the sole reason of being able to sleep as late as possible.)
This sandwich makes the cut because it hardly takes any time to throw together, and, surprisingly, it holds up well. The avocado will stay green for a few hours because it’s cozied up in between the cream cheese and salmon, which act like little bodyguards that protect it from getting exposed to air and turning brown.
I usually keep a loaf of bread in the freezer and occasionally pick up a package of smoked salmon when it goes on sale, so when I don’t feel much like cooking, I buy an avocado and some cream cheese and then make this sandwich for lunch. Here is how it’s done: You take your bread out of the freezer and pry two frozen slices off of the loaf. You build your sandwich and then take a sharp knife and cut the whole thing in half (yup, straight through the frozen bread), tuck it away in a tupperware, and let it hang out at room temperature until lunch time. If you are squeamish about it being unrefrigerated for a while, just remind yourself that every day in high school you snarfed down a turkey and cheese sandwich that had been sitting in your backpack for three hours, and you never thought twice about it. Or tell yourself that the frozen bread slices are performing the same function that a couple of ice packs would.
There are no huge quantities of anything here. You know when you start to chow down on your Chipotle but the first few bites are nothing but rice because the burrito is overstuffed and the filling hasn’t been distributed evenly? Yeah, as delicious as salmon is, you don’t want to get a mouthful of nothing but smoked fish. You want to be able to taste all of the ingredients since there are only three of them, right?! Four if you count the bread. Five if you count the sprinkle of salt. I’ve tried adding tomato, onion, or other extras, but it’s just not as good. I really believe that, for this sandwich, less is more. Choose some sides that will explore other parts of the food pyramid.
Note: Don’t go for a chewy artisanal bread here. Everything holds together better with a soft sliced loaf.
Smoked Salmon, Avocado, and Cream Cheese Sandwich
- 2 slices soft whole-wheat or multi-grain sandwich bread
- 2 Tbsp. (or so) whipped cream cheese (this is important—the “whipped” kind is soft enough to spread without ripping the bread)
- 1/4 of an avocado
- pinch of table salt
- 1 oz. smoked salmon
- Spread one slice of bread with the cream cheese. Go all the way to the edges, just like you would if you were making a peanut butter sandwich the right way.
- Cut the avocado into 5 or 6 even slices. Place them in one layer on top of the cream cheese. I like to cut them into the appropriate shapes to get full coverage. (See photo above.) Sprinkle with table salt.
- Arrange the salmon evenly on top—it’s going to be a sparse layer.
- Top with the other bread slice and cut in half.
- Tastes best at room temperature.