Sandwiches are a cross-cultural and widely loved lunch food — and yet, I find them to be vastly underappreciated these days. Here are the components that I believe create a great sandwich guaranteed to have you hooked for your next lunchtime.
Pick out a quality bread that speaks to you. I love sourdough, ciabatta or a baguette, but if you want something grainy, soft or anything in between, that’s your prerogative. I find that artisan style breads are much more delicious than soft, mass produced sandwich bread — but sometimes you need to use what you have. Next, you have to decide whether to toast it or not. I prefer toasted, but sometimes a cold sandwich fits the day better.
This is your time to get creative. Based on the other ingredients you plan to use, you could go for a spicy mayo, garlic aioli, mustard, barbecue sauce, hummus or anything else that comes to mind. You want something that will give some moisture to the sandwich as well as an extra boost of flavor. For those with sophisticated taste, try also adding a jam to compliment the other flavors of the sandwich. If sauce isn’t really your thing, you can go back to the basics with a little drizzle of olive oil and some vinegar.
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There’s nothing wrong with some simple sliced turkey, ham, chicken or roast beef that is prepackaged from the grocery store. But if you want to try something different, try slicing pieces of a rotisserie chicken or using freshly cut deli slices from a butcher. Another option is to add some freshly cooked bacon on top of the other meat you are using to bring in a delicious salty flavor. I like going heavy on the meat in sandwiches — it should make up around two-thirds of the total filling.
My go to cheese for almost any sandwich is sliced pepper jack. Swiss, colby jack, gouda and provolone are delicious, milder cheese options as well. If you want to spice things up, try slices of soft brie or fresh mozzarella. These will add extra softness, moisture and meltiness to your sandwich. The only cheese I stay away from on traditional sandwiches is American — it pairs much better with burgers or inside of a classic grilled cheese. Otherwise, it won’t add much flavor to a sandwich.
Freshly sliced tomatoes are a classic on any sandwich and can be elevated with a small sprinkle of salt and black pepper on top. Greens are a nonnegotiable addition to the perfect sandwich, but it’s up to you which one works best. Romaine and iceberg lettuces add a satisfying crunch, arugula or spinach can bring in extra flavor and nutrients, while sprouts are another fun option to try for a different texture. To add another layer of complexity to your sandwich, try throwing in a few leaves of fresh basil as well.
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Create a delicious caprese-inspired sandwich using a toasted ciabatta roll with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, topped with tomato slices, fresh mozzarella slices and fresh basil leaves.
For an easy sandwich with complex flavors sure to please anyone who can’t stop talking about their study abroad experience in Europe, try toasting some sourdough and spreading a thin layer of fig or apricot jam. Top with turkey, melted brie cheese and arugula.
Combine sliced turkey, pepper jack cheese, spicy mayo and romaine lettuce on toasted sourdough to make my favorite simple sandwich that hits the spot every time.