The Perfect Egg and Cheese Sandwich

 Joshua Holz

Maybe your local, beloved coffee shop got you hooked as a kid. Or maybe your addiction started with the Egg McMuffin, which you now consider barely edible. Regardless of your gateway drug to the sunny side, there's no denying it: The egg and cheese is an under-sung hero of the sandwich world. While most let a greasy slice (or five) of bacon shine as the pièce de résistance, in the signature egg and cheese sandwich recipe from new cookbook, Whole Protein Vegetarian by Rebecca Ffrench, you won't even miss it. Hell, you may even like it better. And with a hearty 25 grams of protein in each sandwich, this vegetarian breakfast is anything but light and skimpy.

Classic Egg and Cheese Sandwich

The humble egg and cheese on a roll is invariably satisfying. However, this dependable sandwich can also get dressed up — and may just surprise you. Try a fried tomato, avocado slice, and sautéed spinach on whole-grain ciabatta, and you’re likely to fall in love, too.

  • 4 whole-grain ciabatta rolls or other hearty rolls, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz white cheddar cheese, thickly sliced
  • 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 avocado, sliced

Serves 4 

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly butter the rolls and place them flat side up on the prepared baking sheet. Top with the cheese slices. Place the rolls in the oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a medium size skillet over medium heat. Sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds, then add the spinach, sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt, and sauté until wilted, 1 or 2 minutes. Remove the spinach from the pan but keep the heat on. Next, lightly fry the tomato in the pan for about 1 minute on each side, again sprinkling each with salt and pepper. Remove them from the pan. Check your rolls if you haven’t done so already, and pull them out of the oven so you can slide a tomato slice directly onto each of the bottom rolls.

Add the remaining 2 tsp olive oil to the pan and continue to heat over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the pan and fry sunny-side up until the whites start to set, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove the eggs from the pan when the yolks are runny but whites are completely cooked, about another minute or so. To assemble your sandwiches, lay a slice or two of avocado on top of the tomato, then add an egg and top with a spoonful of sautéed spinach and the top bun. Serve immediately.