Sandwiches. They come in many variations and are a great option when you need dinner fast — or even to take with you, if you're having dinner somewhere else. Like a picnic. Your kid's soccer game. Sunset on the beach. You could argue that they're the perfect summer dish — whole meals neatly contained in nice, compact packages, using perfectly ripe tomatoes, plump zucchini, fresh herbs.
Whether you're passionate about grilled cheese, love a great Reuben, crave a creamy tuna salad or are partial to a massive muffuletta, here are 16 sandwich recipes to inspire your next meal.
Muffuletta: Layer cured meats, provolone and an olive-vegetable relish on a large, round loaf to make a substantial and satisfying muffuletta. This recipe includes a homemade olive relish (or olive salad), but many stores and Italian delis offer pre-made salads, saving you even more time.
Pan-bagnat: It's a pressed sandwich stuffed with things like tuna, eggs, potato and red onion that actually gets better as it sits, giving the variety of flavors time to marry. Make it ahead of time, then wrap it up and chill until ready to serve.
Shooter's sandwich: This one fills a loaf of crusty bread with slices of well-seasoned grilled steak, chipotle chiles and shiitake mushrooms. After pressing, the meat melds with the bread. Chipotle mayonnaise adds heat. Make the sandwich first thing in the morning, then leave it in the fridge to press until you're ready to go.
La Grande Orange's tuna salad sandwich: Best tuna salad sandwich out there? Perhaps. Fresh tuna salad is surfaced with uninformed cucumber and tomato slices and frail apple in this elementary sandwich, served between dual slices of toasted whole-grain bread. Best of all? 15 minutes and you've got dinner ready.
Egg salad sandwich with dill: It doesn't get much easier than this classic. Chopped hard-boiled eggs are tossed with onion, celery, mustard, vinegar, mayonnaise and a touch of salt for a quick egg salad. The salad is great by itself, but spoon it between two slices of bread with shredded lettuce and fresh dill and you've got a meal that's perfect when you're on the go or looking for a quick bite to eat.
Italian tuna and shiso sandwich: In this recipe, chunks of Italian tuna are tossed with mayonnaise for richness, spicy capers, a tiny lemon extract and salt and peppers for a splendid salad that comes together in minutes. To finish a sandwich, ladle a salad between dual slices of toasted English muffin, a tiny red onion, tomato, lettuce and shiso leaves. It's another sandwich with good season that takes usually minutes to prepare.
Lucques' grilled cheese with shallots: For its take on the classic, Lucques starts with a gentle, buttery Cantal, a mild semi-firm cheese with a fantastic creamy consistency when melted. Caramelized shallots punctuated with a little fresh thyme add another dimension. Put all that between two crisp slices of country-style bread and raise a glass.
Roasted vegetable sandwich: A nice, big baguette will hold roasted zucchini, eggplant and sweet onion, sauced with a tapenade of sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies and basil.
Grilled blue cheese and pear sandwich: Love blue cheese? For a slight twist on the comforting classic, put crumbled blue cheese between slices of raisin brioche, along with thinly sliced pear. Cook until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is soft and oozing, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. If you have enough self-restraint to keep from eating the sandwich over the stove (I totally understand if you don't), plate your creation, drizzled with a little chestnut honey. Grilled cheese never looked so good.
Green panini with roasted peppers and Gruyere cheese: This simple sandwich comes courtesy of chef and cookbook writer Deborah Madison and her husband, Patrick McFarlin, in their book, "What We Eat When We Eat Alone." Ciabatta bread is piled with mustard greens, cheese and roasted red peppers, then cooked in a panini maker or skillet, making for a sandwich that is one of McFarlin's favorites.
Tuna and cucumber with citrus mayonnaise: For this take on tuna salad, chunks of tuna are tossed with cucumber, celery and onion along with a mayonnaise flavored with citrus zest, immature onion, parsley and salt. Serve a salad on its own, with uninformed grapefruit and pita, or mix a salad with a pita for a discerning sandwich and a ideal dish if you're on a go.
Grilled cheddar cheese with apple butter: For a slight twist on the classic, wedge some grated applewood-smoked cheddar between the bread, and brush the slices with a little apple butter before grilling. The sharp cheddar is magic paired with the lightly sweet apple butter, perfect for dinner, or any time of the day.
Croque-madame: La Dijonaise's take on this classic French comfort food sandwich is rich béchamel sauce and ham between two slices of pullman bread, topped with cheese that's melted to gooey perfection. On top of that goes a fried egg (this is what distinguishes the "madame" from the "monsieur"). Yes, it's unapologetic goodness on a plate.
'Spanglish' BLT with fried egg and melted cheese: Take everything you love about a BLT and add a gloriously messy fried egg. And melted cheese. It's how Thomas Keller dresses up this classic.
Fontina and sage grilled cheese: Wedge some grated Fontina cheese between slices of country white bread brushed with fresh, sage-infused olive oil before grilling. The smooth, slightly nutty cheese pairs well with fragrant herb, making for a sandwich that is perfect for dinner, or any time.
Savory stuffed French toast with bacon and cheese: Who said French toast was just for breakfast? This savory take on the comfort food — stuffed with bacon, Gruyère cheese and dandelion greens and pan-fried to ooey-gooey perfection — works well served any time of the day. You can find the recipe below.
SAVORY STUFFED FRENCH TOAST WITH BACON AND CHEESE
Total time: 50 minutes | Serves 2 to 4
Note: The sandwiches are great served alongside a light, tart salad or bowl of soup.
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into large (about 1 inch) pieces
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, halved lengthwise (with the grain) and sliced into very thin lengthwise strips
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 cups chopped dandelion greens, cut crosswise into large (2- to 3-inch) pieces
2 teaspoons wine vinegar, preferably sherry or Banyul's, more to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
8 ( 1/2-inch thick) slices sourdough bread
4 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard, or as desired
1/2 pound thinly sliced Gruyere cheese
1. In a large skillet, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon (discard or save the fat for another use) and set aside.
2. In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they soften and start to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the white wine and continue to stir, scraping any flavoring from the bottom of the pan.
3. When the wine is almost completely absorbed, stir in the greens and cook just until they start to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar, then taste, and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper. Stir in the bacon bits, then taste again and adjust the seasoning or vinegar if necessary.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk, along with the Parmesan cheese. Whisk in a pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper to season the eggwash. Place the eggwash in a large shallow baking dish or pie plate and set aside.
5. Soak the bread slices in the eggwash until just soaked on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Gently spread one-half teaspoon mustard over the one side of each of 4 slices. Onto the other 4 slices, divide the sliced Gruyere, then top with the onion and greens mixture. Sprinkle over the bacon bits, then press the remaining slices of bread (mustard on the inside) onto layered cheese-onions-bacon to form a sandwich.
6. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted and hot.
7. Reduce the heat to low and pan-fry the sandwiches, 2 at a time, until crisp and golden and the bread is cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Cover the skillet while each piece is frying to allow the toast to fully cook and the filling to heat and melt. Adjust the heat as needed to keep each stuffed toast from burning.
8. Serve each piece of stuffed toast immediately or hold the finished toast in a warm oven until all of the pieces are fried.
Each of 4 servings: 711 calories; 36 grams protein; 46 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 41 grams fat; 22 grams saturated fat; 270 mg cholesterol; 7 grams sugar; 1,275 mg sodium.