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You'll be the envy of the lunchroom with this Choice Roast Beef Sandwich

Marinade flavored with garlic, mustard and fresh parsley gives the Choice Roast Beef Sandwich a real punch that satisfies the taste buds. Photo by Sue Doeden1 / 2
The marinated roast beef mixture can be tossed into a fresh green salad along with some chopped fresh bell peppers and cucumbers. Photo by Sue Doeden2 / 2

My granddaughters were talking with me recently about going back to school, wondering who their teachers would be and which of their friends might be in their classes this year.

I think I was the one who steered the conversation to the topic of school lunch. They have a choice each day to eat the lunch the school offers or bring their own food from home. They often choose to bring a meal from home. School lunch doesn't always appeal to them.

When I was in grade school, I was lucky there was a woman in the kitchen who loved children as much as she loved to cook for them. Her lunches were homemade and grand. When I got to high school, though, I had no choice. It was a school without a kitchen. We all brought our own lunches.

I remember making lots of peanut butter sandwiches. In fact, I remember the lunch room smelling of peanut butter. Apparently I wasn't the only one pulling a sticky sandwich from my lunch bag.

Not my friend, Molly, though. It seemed her parents were often out of town. In their absence, they hired an elderly woman to come into their home to stay with Molly and her siblings. This woman made roast beef dinners. When that happened, Molly had roast beef sandwiches in her lunch bag. Slabs of thick leftover roast beef and lettuce would be sandwiched between two slices of soft white bread. I always liked the looks of those roast beef sandwiches.

I doubt that Choice Roast Beef Sandwiches are what my granddaughters would choose to find in their lunch. And I'm quite sure a Choice Roast Beef Sandwich was not the kind I would pack and eat in my high school lunch room. They are definitely not the kind of roast beef sandwich Molly's elderly caretaker would even think of preparing. But, man, are they good.

Thinly sliced leftover roast beef or steak or deli-style roast beef combine with sliced avocados and red onion and then take a long cold soak in an oil and vinegar marinade. The marinade, flavored with garlic, mustard and fresh parsley, gives the sandwich a real punch that satisfies the taste buds.

The sandwiches can be wrapped individually and carried to work or school in a cool insulated lunch bag. Be sure to toss some napkins in with the sandwich. A little of the oil and vinegar marinade might drip from your chin as you chow down.

These sandwiches also are perfect for your last picnics, bike rides, camping trips, hikes and boat rides of the season. I like using individual ciabatta rolls for the sandwiches. A large round focaccia loaf can be used and sliced into wedges for serving. A long baguette also works. Prepare the baguette sandwich ahead of time, wrap it up and store it in the refrigerator. When hunger pangs strike someone in the house, they can head to the kitchen and slice off a piece of the marinated roast beef-stuffed baguette.

For those who shy away from sandwiches, the marinated roast beef mixture can be tossed into a fresh green salad along with some chopped fresh bell peppers and cucumbers. Drizzle it all with your favorite salad dressing and you've got a meal.

This isn't your everyday, use-up-the-roast beef sandwich. This sandwich is choice.

Choice Roast Beef Sandwiches

1 pound thinly sliced roast beef

3 avocados

1 medium red onion

1/2 cup white wine or champagne vinegar

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup olive oil

2 chubby cloves garlic, peeled, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

8 take-and-bake ciabatta rolls

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Place sliced beef into a large zip-top plastic bag. Remove skin and pit from avocados and slice into thin wedges. Add to bag. Peel onion, cut in half and thinly slice. Add to bag.

In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, canola oil, olive oil, minced garlic, chopped parsley and mustard. When it is well-blended, pour the mixture over the ingredients in the bag. Seal bag and gently shake to be sure all ingredients are coated with the oil and vinegar mixture. Lay the bag in a 9-inch glass dish and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Bake ciabatta rolls according to directions on package. Slice in half horizontally. Remove beef mixture from marinade. Discard marinade. Spoon avocados, beef and onions onto bottom halves of rolls. Top with cheese. Place top of roll on each. Makes 8 sandwiches.

Tips from the cook

--This time of year, when fresh rosemary stems are getting a little woody in the garden, they make a natural pick to hold stuffed sandwiches together. Just remove the leaves from the lower portion of the stem, cut it to size and use it as an alternative to a wooden or plastic skewer or pick. I make a hole with a wooden pick first to make insertion of the rosemary skewer a lot easier.

--If you don't have access to fresh parsley, dried parsley can be used. Two teaspoons should do the trick.

--For the daring, add dried red pepper flakes to the marinade.