Today is National Sandwich Day, a time to celebrate the countless ways to make a sandwich. It's hard to imagine a food so wonderfully simple, convenient and universally loved. Whether you're a peanut butter and jelly purist, a Philly cheese steak fiend or grilled cheese aficionado, there's a sandwich lover in everyone.
Over the years, we've made many sandwiches in the Test Kitchen. We even attempted building the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich earlier this year with nine different layers of cheesy goodness. And of course there was bacon.
National Sandwich Day is the perfect time to get in the kitchen and get creative. The ultimate sandwich starts with good bread, and on the inside, the possibilities are endless. Mix things up with a pork belly banh mi with pickled vegetables and tender, braised pork, or go for a classic with a ham and melted cheese-filled croque-monsieur.
Here are a couple recipes for some delicious sandwiches to help celebrate the holiday. For all 19, check out our sandwich photo gallery here, or in the gallery above.
Note: Adapted from "What We Eat When We Eat Alone" by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin. It is one of McFarlin's favorites. This recipe makes more mustard greens than are used in the sandwich.
1 bunch mustard greens, stemmed and washed but not dried
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
Red pepper flakes, a few pinches or to taste
Pepper sauce or red wine vinegar, to taste
2 pieces ciabatta, or your favorite rustic bread
Grated Gruyère or fontina cheese
Roasted bell pepper cut into wide strips
1. Put the mustard greens in a pot over high heat with the water that clings to the leaves plus one-half cup. Sprinkle with one-half teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, garlic and the pepper flakes and cover. After the leaves have collapsed, reduce the heat to medium and cook until they're tender when you taste one, about 7 minutes. Drain, then squeeze the excess water out of the greens. Put them in a bowl and season with additional salt, if needed, and pepper sauce or vinegar to taste.
2. Slather the outside of the bread with olive oil. Cover one slice of the bread (the dry side) with cheese, pile on a half or a third of the greens, and add the pepper strips. Spread the top slice with Dijon mustard, then cover.
3. Cook in your panini maker or in a skillet until the bread is crispy and the cheese melts. When a wave of melted cheese hits the hot surface, there's a bonus tang, but don't let it burn. Slice it diagonally; it's easier to eat that way and it looks jaunty too.
Each sandwich: 611 calories; 20 grams protein; 73 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams fiber; 27 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 16 mg. cholesterol; 1,447 mg. sodium.
Servings: Makes 2 sandwiches
Note: Raisin brioche is available from La Brea Bakery; you can substitute any good-quality raisin bread. Bleu des Basques cheese is available from Nicole's Gourmet Foods in South Pasadena, the Cheese Store of Silverlake and the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills.
4 slices raisin brioche
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
4 ounces firm but mild blue cheese, such as bleu des Basques, crumbled
1 pear, slightly under-ripe, cored and thinly sliced
Chestnut honey for drizzling, optional
1. Heat a cast-iron pan or griddle over low heat. Brush one side of each bread slice with melted butter.
2. Spread half of the cheese evenly over the unbuttered side of two slices of the bread. Place a single layer of the pear slices over the cheese, then top with the remaining cheese. Place the remaining bread on top of each sandwich, buttered-side up.
3. With a spatula, place one of the sandwiches into the heated pan and weight it with a second heavy pan or a steak weight. (If your pan is large enough, cook both sandwiches; otherwise, cook them one at a time.) Cook until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the sandwich, weight it with the pan or steak weight, and cook until golden brown, another 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Remove the sandwich to a cutting board and cut it in half or quarters. Serve immediately with a drizzle of chestnut honey, if desired, on the plate.
Each sandwich: 524 calories; 18 grams protein; 48 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 31 grams fat; 18 grams saturated fat; 73 mg. cholesterol; 1,122 mg. sodium.
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