I have to be honest: I was never a fan of sandwiches. Horrors of supermarket-bought sandwiches, from soggy BLTs to crunchy shells in an egg and cress number, make them my last resort when it comes to lunch. I have been buying lunch everyday since the age of 12; salad boxes, pasta bowls, and hot lunches were far more inviting.
Since starting a full-time role in August, however, I have started appreciating the appeal of this popular lunch option: they are easy, quick, and customisable. It may not be your most satiating meal of the day, but the array of fillings to choose from – as anything goes well with bread – is overwhelmingly persuasive.
I have compiled five of my favourite combinations that create notorious sandwiches. The bread choice is crucial – choose your favourite loaf/baguette/boule/whatever; slice and freeze if you are buying freshly-baked products and lightly toast (using the frozen option) when required.
Different flavour and texture combinations have been tested. I have also taken into account of leftovers from the sandwich fillings below (from home-made sauces and pastes), and I have suggested uses for these where applicable.
- Salad and chutney sandwiches.
I have recently found a new love in the form of chutney: caramelised onion and balsamic figs, in particular. The sweet taste of these preserves are not too overpowering, and enhances the savoury flavours of what it is paired with. Traditionally used with cheese or meat, these go well with a good salad too. I usually opt for 1 tbsp of chutney with some crunchy mixed salad, tomatoes, cucumber, and sliced red pepper.
The chutney is the ‘sauce’ component of the sandwich, so butter/vegetable spread or mayonnaise need not to feature.
- Caprese in a roll.
Inspired by a mozzarella-less caprese sandwich I had from Paul at Basel Airport, I love the simplicity and bold flavours in this combination. Perfect in a ciabatta roll, I spread some home-made pesto and layer basil leaves and juicy tomatoes for this award-winning lunch.
Pumpkin seed pesto
I have recently been using pumpkin seeds in place of pine nuts (it is cheaper); I add handfuls of basil, a garlic clove, and 50 g pumpkin seeds in a food processor. Blitz, and add olive oil until it forms a paste. Season well. Store any left-overs in the fridge, and mix with your favourite pasta or dollop on a pizza!
- Salad and antipasti hummus sandwiches.
Super simple hummus
I beg you to tell me anyone who does not love this chickpea wonder. Its facile production makes it an amazing add-on to make huge amounts of quite regularly. I use 240g of cooked chickpeas (drained weight of a 400g can), 2 garlic cloves, juice of 1 lemon, some water or olive oil (to your preference), 1 tbsp tahini, and seasoning. Process all ingredients in a food processor, varying the water/oil quantities to your preference.
Flavours can be adjusted to your taste, and it can be eaten with crudites, tortilla chips or pita bread. If you’re feeling lazy, I can understand the appeal of shop-bought hummus. There are some great flavours out there these days; I’m looking at you, Moroccan-topped hummus.
I combine the hummus with some salad, grated carrots, and antipasti, such as grilled artichokes and sundried-tomatoes, to create a wholesome, filling sandwich. A great mix of protein, carbs, and a little fat to fuel you until home-time.
- Guac and leaf sandwiches.
A perfectly ripe avocado is amazing as a sandwich filling on its own. As guac, however, levels are raised. Mash half an avocado with the juice of ½ a lime and some chilli flakes or cayenne pepper. Season well, and add 1 chopped tomato. Mix well and spread onto your bread. Add some salad and voila!
- Creamy avocado and antipasti sandwiches.
Avocados are beautiful things. They add creaminess to everything, making it the perfect substitute for many non-vegan products such as cream or mayonnaise. Use a perfectly ripe avocado, roughly mash it with some lime juice (some chunks left to add dimension) and season well. Spread onto your bread, and add some antipasti (sun-dried tomatoes, olives and artichokes). Sprinkle some seeds on top (sunflower or pumpkin works well) and tuck in.
So apart from blitzing some things for the pesto and hummus, the sandwich suggestions above are quick and delicious options for lunches, picnics, and afternoon pick-me-ups. The ingredients used are cheap as chips too, as well as being healthy, without the need for splurging on faddy superfoods which can often break the bank big time.