SPEND LESS, EAT BETTER: Simple Sandwiches Make Interesting Summer Suppers
Think of a sandwich as a nutritious, economical, multi-generational meal with built-in portion control. Sandwich suppers are especially good during the summer -- light, quickly prepared, little mess.
But there are sandwiches -- and there are sandwiches.
I'm not talking cold cuts, mayo and lettuce on white. Think of the sandwich as a unit providing protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, condiments and flair. To improve, first deconstruct:
Bread: Square ciabatta rolls (at most supermarket service bakeries) are the newest and hottest. A long, slender baguette sliced into portions is cheaper than French rolls. Premium commercial brands (especially Pepperidge Farm Sourdough) are good but be careful not to let strong grain flavor or additives (cheese, herbs) overpower fillings. Select darker, stronger flavored breads for beef, lighter varieties for poultry and veggies. Space permitting, divide loaves and freeze half.
Meat/fish fillings: Deli meats cost a bundle and spoil quickly. You can bake a ham and roast a frozen turkey breast in the same oven between supper and bedtime. What a difference the real thing makes. While the oven is on, cook a pound of bacon slices on a rack; drain and freeze in a plastic bag. Never light the grill for only one meal.
Add thick eggplant slices brushed with salad dressing, boneless chicken breasts or thighs, a pork loin, salmon, a London broil or chuck steak for the week's sandwiches. Dredge fish filets in bread crumbs, saut and refrigerate; heat later for fish and cole slaw sandwiches on hoagie rolls.
A (flat) mushroom omelet sandwich on rye is a simple pleasure.
Salad fillings: Green up a tuna, egg and chicken salad by chopping fine lots of celery with leaves, parsley, cilantro, green onions, olives, cucumber, pickles in food processor. Mix in just enough light mayo (can't tell the difference here) to hold salad together. Mash this mixture into cream cheese, also, to spread on a garden tomato sandwich.
Leaves: Abandon iceberg for spinach and dark nutrient-rich lettuces. Try Napa cabbage or kale (remove stems) blanched in boiling water.
Cheese: Ban processed slices. Have more flavorful cheeses sliced paper-thin at the deli counter. Crumble feta over a vegetarian sandwich for kick.
Condiments: Cut regular or light mayo with mustard or ketchup -- or eliminate altogether. If the sandwich is interesting, nobody will notice. Try spreading bread with hummus, onion jam, pepper relish.
Stacking: Don't overload a sandwich with drippy ingredients. Choose contrasting colors: turkey, avocado, black olives or bacon. Sliced steak with yellow and red peppers.
Grilling: Make a grilled three-cheese sandwich in a ridged frying pan sprayed with olive oil for panini stripes. Weigh down with a heavy can.
Garnishes: Potato chips are so yesterday. Make a splash with thin cantaloupe wedges, a strawberry kabob, radish roses, cucumber slices spread with salsa cream cheese -- even crispy Tater Tots on toothpicks with a honey-mustard dip.
Dinner's done -- and aren't you clever?
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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