California Ranch Sandwich

by Gena on May 30, 2009


Is it just me, or does every single deli and sandwich shop have a wrap or sandwich labeled “the California wrap”? At the very least, I can think of three delis in my neighborhood that sell somesuch thing, usually involving grilled chicken and avocado.

Well, today I’m sharing my own version of a “California” sandwich, so called primarily because it uses Napa cabbage leaves as the bread, and secondarily because of the sweet ranch dressing and avocado stuffed inside.

When I don’t use Ezekiel bread or collard wraps for sandwiches, Napa cabbage leaves are my “bread” of choice. They’re big, sturdy, and flatter than romaine leaves, so I find that they make more stable and sliceable foundations for sandwiches. (For the record, Napa cabbage is also loaded with vitamins K and C). I often pile them with nut pate, guacamole, or raw hummus, but simple shredded veggies and a zesty dressing taste great, too.

This particular sandwich is brought together by a sweet, tangy ranch dressing. There are plenty of raw dressing variations floating around online, but this is my own version–and my favorite! It’s rich and fresh tasting, and it’s dotted with spring herbs, so it’s perfect for this time of year. It’s a little greener than your traditional ranch dressing, but that’s just the dill and parsley making their presence known!

Raw Ranch Dressing (Yields 1 ½ cups, or so)

¾ cup cashews, soaked for at least two hours
½ cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup apple cider vinegar (a little more if you like it more tart)
3 tbsp olive oil
¼-½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
*1 clove garlic
*½ tsp onion powder

3 tbsp fresh dill
3 tbsp fresh parsley

* You all know me well enough to know I’d never include these! But if garlic and onion don’t, um, make you gag, use them for a more traditional “ranch” flavor.

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender – OR blend all ingredients except for the oil in a food processor, and drizzle the oil in until the mixture is creamy and emulsified.

When dressing is blended, chop an additional few tablespoons of herbs and mix them in. Enjoy on top of a big green salad, or in…

Gena’s California Ranch Sandwich:

Take two generous leaves of Napa cabbage. Pile one of them high with red cabbage, cucumber, tomato slices, and some thinly sliced avocado (sprouts or carrot would also be a nice addition). Drizzle generously with raw ranch dressing, cover with the other cabbage leaf, and serve.


Close up:


A note to all of my food combining friends: technically, this sandwich combines a nut-based dressing with some avocado. Most of you should be able to get away with it, since the avocado used is very minimal. But if you’re highly sensitive to food combinations (like me), I would serve this sans avocado, or with avocado and an avocado-based or neutral dressing.

This sandwich makes a perfect, light lunch, and it would be easy to take to work: just pack your cabbage leaves and shredded veggies into one container and your dressing into another, and assemble at the office!

So, switching topics for a moment, many of you have been inquiring about my coaching services lately. This is great! One of the more frequent inquiries I’m getting is, “Do you only work with people who want to go totally raw?” And the answer is a big, resounding no! I work with clients at all levels and with all dietary habits: the only prerequisite is that you have an interest in adding more raw or high-raw foods to your life. Depending on what your goals are, I’ll help you to prepare raw meals (whether that’s once daily or once weekly), talk to you about green grocery shopping and meal planning, and help you understand the raw lifestyle better. I encourage a gradual transition process, and I’m also here to help you develop strategies for dietary pitfalls, such as sugar addiction or emotional eating.

If you’ve got lots of questions and want to work on eating more raw, I encourage you to shoot me an email at to inquire about my rates and packages. Email counseling is a great option for those of you who are far away and have questions that need answering; I’m getting so much curiosity from you, but I can’t always answer your queries without a detailed sense of your history and needs. Which is where coaching comes in :)

Alright my friends. I hope you’re all enjoying a nice, early summer weekend! My plans include:

•Lots of work
•A trip downtown to hear Victoras Kulvinskas speak with my friend Cassie
•A rooftop party
•Waiting for Time Warner Cable to replace my cable modem
•A run, some yoga

Have a great day!


P.S. Speaking of dressings, check out my friend Lindsay’s Zukay Dressings giveaway!!

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

VeggieGirl May 30, 2009 at 8:22 am

Out of ALL of the California sandwiches I’ve seen and eaten in my lifetime, yours is definitely the most appealing :-) Thank you for sharing another winning recipe!!

Good luck with your busy day, and have fun.


Pearl May 30, 2009 at 8:33 am

yum gena – that looks SO delicious!


FoodsThatFit May 30, 2009 at 9:15 am

In the words of Miss Veggie Girl herself “HOLY YUM!”

Thanks for the info on the food combining with the recipe. I am still working on my understanding with all of it. It is a poor combo because of the nut (protein) and fat (avocado) combo correct?

Ooh, I l just really love learning about all of this. Someday I WILL do your counseling services. You have so much knowledge and I can’t wait to pick your brain (more than I already have) about some things with the raw food/food combining lifestyle!

Have a great weekend!


Gena May 31, 2009 at 7:49 am

Thanks, Abbie! Can’t wait for you to pick my brain :)


Shelby May 30, 2009 at 9:39 am

I will be trying this out soon!

I’m confused about the food combining though…maybe you should do a post on it?!


The Veg Next Door May 30, 2009 at 9:53 am

That is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful!


Gena May 31, 2009 at 7:49 am

Thank you so very much!


Happy Herbivore May 30, 2009 at 10:02 am

YUM! That sammie really captures the spirit of CA too!


Gena May 31, 2009 at 7:49 am

I thought so too, Linds :)


Sarah (LovIN My Tummy) May 30, 2009 at 10:07 am

That looks fabulous! Have your ears been burning? A few bloggers and I have been chatting about how much we love you and your site! I can’t wait to see what you do next!


Gena May 31, 2009 at 7:49 am

As I said in my email, Sarah: you made my day!


lauren May 30, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Yum! I need to try this out! Definitely the yummiest Cali sandwich I’ve seen! :) Have a lovely weekend!


Erin May 30, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Mmm that sounds awesome – except for the tomato ;) I’ve never tried napa cabbage but it’s on my list!
Thanks for being such a rockin’ source of information and a continuing inspiration!


Gena May 31, 2009 at 7:50 am

I love inspiring people to eat simply and eat raw! Thanks, Erin!


Kim May 31, 2009 at 5:56 am

How innovative! I used to love the giant leaf of Napa cabbage stuffed into those pre-made bodega Power-Fu sandwiches.

Speaking of cabbage, I’m a huge fan of raw kimchi, and was just wondering if you have any experience fermenting your own foods?


Gena May 31, 2009 at 7:50 am

Hey Kim!

I’m wary of eating fermented foods unless I consume them very quickly, and I’ve also been a bit lazy about the work involved. But I’m certainly curious!



Marlena Torres May 31, 2009 at 6:49 am

Oh wow! Enjoy Viktoras! What a treat! How I wish I lived closer to the city. :)


Katherine May 31, 2009 at 6:51 am

That sandwich looks amazing! I, too, would love to see a post about food combining, if that’s possible. Since I started reading food blogs a few months ago, I really been paying attention to how different foods affect my digestion and I think adding knowledge of food combining would be very helpful.

Enjoy the beautiful weather and your fun-filled Sunday!


Gena May 31, 2009 at 7:51 am

Hey all!

Glad that there’s interest in combining. For now, please read the basics in my Digestive Health and Cleansing 101 tab. I promise I’ll get to a more detailed post soon.

G xo


Briana in Tucson May 31, 2009 at 10:51 am

Wow, I’ve never thought of using Napa cabbage for “bread” before! I’ve used romanie and iceberg leaves for my “sandwiches” and green cabbage leaves for taco “shells.” I’ll have to try this! And I also have to stop using “quotation marks” for everything…


Gena May 31, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Good call with the butter leaves!


dreamin'itvegan May 31, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Butter lettuce would be great too! It looks delicious!


Gena May 31, 2009 at 12:43 pm

It WAS delicious!


Hangry Pants May 31, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Gena, This looks absolutely delicious!!!!


Katharina May 31, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Ooo a rooftop party sounds fun! Last time I did anything on a roof me and some friends projected a movie on to a brickwall this past fall and everyone brought popcorn and blankets.


melissa May 31, 2009 at 5:32 pm

thanks for coming last night! Running and yoga are the perfect complimentary exercises, yin and yan! I need to do more yoga, made we can check out sadie’s studio sometime soon.

here’s too many more gorgeous, fun weekends in the city. I love summer in nyc.


melissa May 31, 2009 at 5:33 pm

* to not too


Jenna June 1, 2009 at 11:10 am

Thank you so much for this fantastic looking recipe!! I can’t wait to try it! Also, thanks for the food combining information, I’ve been doing a bit of research on this and i’ve learned so much.


Hanlie July 10, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I just tried this dressing tonight and it’s absolutely awesome! May I publish it on my website (with full credit, of course!)?


Gena July 10, 2009 at 4:59 pm

I’d be honored, Hanlie. Thanks!


Jess of Veg Out! November 25, 2009 at 3:36 pm

I just made this dressing to go with a salad I am serving tomorrow, and it is delicious! I added the garlic & onion because I love them :), and it’s so rich & creamy! Plus, it really tastes amazing. Love the dill!


yin yoga December 18, 2009 at 10:53 am

informative post!!!!


Kristina January 16, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Am now OBSESSED with this dressing-so nice to have a creamier based dressing! I have friends that choose this over regular dressing now!


xevcki February 9, 2010 at 10:11 pm

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Devona Hutson November 21, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Netbest Shopping


Crystal February 8, 2013 at 12:39 am

I’m thinking of doing this raw vegan thing to lose weight I have tried every diet an not much luck so question is do I worrie bout calories when doing this an how do u stop wanting meat lol


Nicole April 9, 2013 at 9:02 am

This was super yummy! But it made so much… how long would you say this lasts in the refrigerator for?


Gena April 10, 2013 at 8:59 am

The dressing? At least 5 days!


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