Sandwich Ideas for Lunchtime

Sandwiches are a lunchtime staple.  They are easy to enjoy at school or work, on a picnic, or at home on the weekend.  Anyone can make a salami sandwich and call it lunch.  Why not get a little creative and call it something special?

Most sandwiches include some combination of bread, meat, cheese, greens and one or more spreads.  One way to make your sandwiches special is to take what you know and like and add a twist.  On your tried and true peanut butter and jelly sandwich, add some thinly sliced green apple for a refreshing crunch.  On a tuna sandwich, shake things up by spreading your bread with olive tapenade or adding a layer of roasted red peppers.

Don’t be afraid to think beyond mayonnaise and mustard.  Turn your favorite dips, dressings and condiments into spreads.  Olive tapenade, mango chutney, ranch dressing, hummus, pesto, guacamole, and black bean dip make great spreads for sandwiches.

When it comes to greens, no need to stick with iceberg lettuce for sandwiches.  Any kind of dark leafy green or baby green will work.  Fresh herbs, such as basil or dill, are also nice to add to sandwiches.  Consider tossing your greens and fresh herbs with a light dressing before putting them on the sandwich – this adds moisture to a sandwich without turning the bread soggy.  In place of greens, why not try sprouts?   Fresh, crunchy, and sometimes spicy – sprouts are a great addition to sandwiches.  Thinly sliced cucumbers also serve as a nice alternative to lettuce.

Another way to get creative with sandwiches is to think of other flavor combinations you like and put them on sandwiches.  For instance, I like to serve fruit spread with a cheese plate, so why not on a sandwich?  Fig jam and Havarti cheese on a roll with dressed greens is delicious!  Fresh fruit such as figs, apricots and apples, thinly sliced, make a great addition to sandwiches.  I like to make a chicken Caesar salad or a Greek salad and stuff it into a sandwich.  I also like layering roasted vegetables on a sandwich, along with some fresh greens and hummus.

Instead of bread, consider making your sandwiches with bagels, tortillas, pita bread, or for a gluten-free option, rice paper wrappers.  I find rice paper wrappers in the international aisle at my local market.  Simply soak a rice paper wrapper in warm water for a few seconds, until it becomes pliable and then use it as a gluten-free wrap for your ingredients.

For picnics, I like making one big sandwich that can be sliced into pieces.  Take a full size French loaf and cut it in half.  Scoop out some of the inside from the bottom half (Don’t throw it away! Dry it and use it to make breadcrumbs.). Layer pesto, sliced Italian meats such as Genoa salami and Mortadella, cream cheese, roasted red peppers, fresh spinach, and repeat one or more times, spreading the top piece of bread with pesto as well.  Wrap the loaf tight in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator over night.  Once it’s time to eat lunch the next day, unwrap the loaf and slice it into individual pieces.  Works like a charm!

Of course, sandwiches can be served hot and melted, by using a Panini press or grilling them on the stovetop.  Whether serving them hot or cold, be sure to spread and stack ingredients to the edges so that every bite is moist and tasty.  Also – don’t forget to season your sandwiches.  A dash of salt and a little freshly ground black pepper go a long way in making flavors shine.

Kristen Desmond

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