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Great Sandwich Ideas Make Great Sandwiches For This Summer

Updated on June 23, 2016
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Karla has always had medium-sized dogs, but she now shares her home with a lovely little Dachshund.

Great sandwiches are created, not just made.

A great cold sandwich on a hot summer day is a perfect lunch.
A great cold sandwich on a hot summer day is a perfect lunch. | Source

Great sandwiches are built one step at a time

Most of us have loved certain sandwiches since childhood, anything from a great PBJ to a great BLT. We've also picked up a few new sandwiches as we've tasted them here and there. But how much have we pushed our boundaries to stray from the regulars - taken a few steps into unfamiliar waters, so to speak?

Here are some ideas for great sandwich fixings to temp you into those unfamiliar waters.

First, the gooey stuff that people love, that gives a sandwich that great mouth feel.

Do you use mayo? Mustard? Catsup? While those are all good options for your standard sandwich, you can also dress it up a little. If you like creamy texture, instead of mayo at 110 calories a tablespoon (and who ever has only one tablespoon of mayo?), try a creamy salad dressing, at about 25 to 50 calories less. My current favorite is a creamy garlic ranch dressing. Another is a champayne Caesar dressing.

You could try a blue cheese dressing, a green goddess, or a thousand island. You could even mix your mayo half and half with a dressing of your choice. Or add herbs, such as dill, oregano or sage to a plain mayo. A great mayo mix for not only sandwiches, but dipping cauliflower and other veggies is to add soy sauce or tamari sauce to the mayo, enough to color the mayo and to change the taste, but not enough to make it salty. So add a few drops and taste, until you get a great almost nutty flavor. It goes especially well with thin-sliced beef.

Another option is avocado. You can either mash it up - and maybe even make guacamole for a special sandwich - or you can simply slice it. For keeping it in the sandwich, I prefer to smash it into chunks and spread it on the bread. Slices can slide, and sliding ingredients make a messy sandwich.

Hummus is another great creamy addition to a sandwich. Hummus is simple to make and has few ingredients, if you find that you love the flavor.

If you have roasted eggplant or other roasted veggies left over, you can mash the veggies and, with a little salt and pepper, use them for a sandwich spread.

If you like sushi, an unusual spread that works especially well with fish or shellfish sandwiches is a creamy dressing of any kind with just a little (repeat, just a little) wasabi powder for heat. You can easily purchase wasabi powder at a local oriental grocery or online, and it will keep a very long time, as long as it's dry.

Peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter, sunflower butter and other ground seed spreads also work great. Don't deny a sandwich the taste of a ground nut butter just because it has meat on it. Beef and pork sandwiches are especially tasty with a light swipe of one of these butters. The robust flavors go well together. A toasted sandwich with a ground butter and a hearty slice of pork is a combination that begs to be tried.

Cheese is the smile in a sandwich

Hard cheeses in German market
Hard cheeses in German market | Source

A sandwich only improves with cheese

Of course, a sandwich only improves with cheese. (Well, if you like cheese.) I like to be very light on the cheese, myself. I like lots of veggies to crunch with a nice creamy cheese as a kind of counter feel and taste. Be sure to experiment with cheeses. Try strong cheeses, grated cheeses, melted cheeses, smoked cheeses. I love smoked gouda melted with either baked fish or a nice roasted chicken breast. You can either let the cheese compliment the biggest flavor in the sandwich, or let it actually be the biggest flavor in the sandwich.

A sandwich doesn't have to have meat in it. Cream cheese and a chewy bread make a great beginning for a mouth-filling sandwich. Add other summer ingredients to make it perfect. Here are some possible choices, in any combination: a slice of fresh big beefsteak tomato, long slices of fresh cucumber (they slide less sliced long), long slices of baby zucchini, green peppers, cilantro, a thin slice of sweet onion or chopped green onions, some sprouts, your favorite lettuce, a great pickle, maybe even a hot pepper with the seeds removed. If you want to make a great meatless sandwich taste even better, grill some of veggies, like the zucchini or summer squash.

Another simple and creamy sandwich is an onion sandwich. It has very few ingredients. The big requirement for a really great onion sandwich is that the onion be sweet. If the onion isn't sweet, the sandwich is, to me, a total loss and a lot of work for fire up the nose. Slice the onion very thinly and be liberal when buttering the bread. Oh, yeah. Bread and salted butter are the other two ingredients. If you want to add other things to this sandwich, you can, but an onion sandwich with these few ingredients is the classic onion sandwich. Well, a little bit of a very nice cheese can be added, too, without ruining it. But grate rather than slice the cheese, and add just a little. I call a sweet onion sandwich with just a little cheese the perfect poor man's lunch. And, of course, a little breath freshener later.

When you're thinking about adding cheese, think beyond Swiss or American cheese. Different kinds of cheese can add a great deal to a sandwich, either alone or in combination. Edam, gouda, mozzarella, cheddar (try strong cheddar), Colby, Havarti, Muenster, Provolone, etc. Don't shy away from the crumbly cheeses, either. Some of them are fantastic crumbled into a creamy dressing for a sandwich. And think about adding smoked cheeses to a sandwich. They add wonderful flavor. My two favorites are smoked gouda and smoked cheddar.

A classic toasted cheese sandwich can be made into a unique toasted cheese sandwich by using different cheeses, and by mixing cheese tastes. Also, don't forget to try different breads. A heavy, hearty bread will give you a different melted cheese sandwich than a light, chewy bread will. You can also change the sandwich considerably by choosing to toast the bread and cheese together, or by melting the cheese on the bread in the broiler, but not toasting the bread.

If you're adding cheese to a sandwich, consider how different the texture of grated cheese is from the texture of sliced cheese. A softer grated cheese tastes chewy without having any heaviness to it, and if you're stretching a little cheese to a lot of sandwiches, grating allows you to do that better than slicing, without loss of flavor. Also, if you want to play with strong-tasting cheeses, you can add just a little grated and add a hint of that strong flavor. Even a thin slice of strong cheese may be too much flavor for some milder tasting sandwiches.

One cheese that stinks but has a great taste when it's melted is Raclette cheese. I thought I'd give it its own paragraph, because it's such a great surprise. But I do recommend melting it. A nice way to have a snack by a campfire is to melt little squares of raclette on pieces of hearty bread.

Mustard in various forms

Six pictures of mustard seeds, whole, ground and mixed with other ingredients.
Six pictures of mustard seeds, whole, ground and mixed with other ingredients. | Source

A little mustard, some tomato, oil or maybe vinegar? How about pickles?

If you like the taste of mustard, branch out from that French's yellow (American) mustard. Try the brown deli-style, stone ground, or hot mustard (watch this one - hot mustard is hot, hot, hot! You have to be a real trooper to try Chinese mustard, no matter how thinly applied, to a sandwich).

Grey Poupon is fantastic on everything from chicken to smoked ham. Beer, bourbon or whisky flavored mustards are great. Honey mustards are fantastic with different roasted meats. And don't forget the possibility of mixing a mustard with one of the creamy tastes above. My favorite is a coarse ground mustard with Green Goddess dressing. Another option is choosing a great vinegar to add an extra kick to your mustard. Mustard is simple to make, but home-made mustards are usually much hotter than purchased mustards, so be aware of that.

Try horseradish, if you love something spicy. It doesn't have to be very hot - not if you mix it with mayo. I love horseradish mixed with several different types of spreads. Horseradish mayo is great. Horseradish mustard is also a favorite. Even horseradish on a sweet onion sandwich is perfect, and I wouldn't want anything to corrupt the purity of a sweet onion sandwich.

If you like a tomato taste, branch out from your standard catsup. Make your own combinations of tomato paste, vinegar, salt and sugar. Try some different barbecue sauces. There are a thousand out there, and experimentation will lead you to the one you like the best - start with the high quality ones, and use just a little. Try them both cold and hot. Though I suppose they are designed to be eaten after heating, many of them taste great cold, as if you were using catsup. Of course, BBQ sauce and meat heated together are a lovely great hot sandwich on a cool, rainy day. Especially if it has a smoky flavor, that will bring extra pleasure. To make an unusual sauce that will drive catsup right from your mind, mash up some sun-dried tomatoes with a great olive oil. If you feel adventurous, add add finely chopped mild onion and a few seasonings that you like (a dry herb Italian seasoning mix is always safe), and let it set for a few hours to marinate. You can even pulverize this mix until it's smooth, and store it in the refrigerator for a while. So if you're planning a day with friends where you provide sandwiches, this might be a fun option. Try mixing a good hot sauce with your catsup, or use tomatillo sauce instead. Try a salsa, either bottled or prepared yourself. They're amazingly easy to make and store well for several days.If your sandwich is a hot sandwich, instead of a gravy, consider spaghetti sauce or another tomato-based sauce on it. Or even an Alfredo sauce.Other great sauces for sandwiches are simply oils. You can take a great bread and toast it with a high quality olive oil, or lightly brushed with toasted sesame seed oil, and it's fantastic! Or just drizzle the oil on the bread. If it has a pleasant flavor, choose almost any oil you'd use in a salad, and spread it on the bread. Also don't forget the infused oils. Once I received a wonderful infused rosemary oil for a hostess gift, and tried it on a simple veggie sandwich. It was heaven!Another choice for flavor is vinegar. I like seasoned rice wine vinegar for a little, but just a little added tartness. A friend loves adding malt vinegar to pork sandwiches. Just sprinkle a little on the meat or veggies. Not enough to make things soggy, just a sprinkle. Or you can add the tartness of vinegar by adding pickled veggies to your sandwich. Chopped pepperoncini is great. Or biting into a whole pepperoncini for every few bites you take of your sandwich is also fun. There are an increasing variety of olives available, and they bring their own flavors to a sandwich, either sliced or as a tapenade. Find a huge variety of tastes in the simple pickled cucumber - sweet, relish, briny dills, garlic dills, hot dills. Or choose other veggies that have been pickled. Slice them and add them to a simple sandwich to give it a great kick. I know a guy who even loves pickled egg sandwich. (Of course, he's one of the few people I know who loves pickled eggs.)

Coldcuts are a possible beginning for sandwiches

Coldcuts waiting for sandwiches
Coldcuts waiting for sandwiches | Source

Fish and shellfish are perfect in a sandwich

Seafood in an Italian market
Seafood in an Italian market | Source

A sandwich has more meat (and seafood) possibilities than you might think

Then there are the raw, grilled or roasted veggies. You can add just about any veggie to a sandwich, and your taste buds will thank you. Once when I had a few pieces of cold cold cooked cauliflower, I added them sliced to a sandwich that also had sliced raw zucchini, pickles and a big slice of lovely tomato, as well as some leftover shredded chicken breast. It was a very satisfying treat, and taught me to keep those few pieces of cooked vegetables.

As for breads, take wide steps out to all possibilities. You can go with any of the white breads, either crustless, with chewy crusts or with crispy, flakey crusts. A whole wheat bread can be dry and hearty, needing lots of creamy help, but worth it in flavor. Or it can be so chewy and satisfying that you don't want to add much but a basic meat and a little pickle. Try a pumpernickel or rye bread. Pick up some sourdough bread and add a dollop of deli mustard with rare sliced beef. But don't stop there. Go for brioche, bagels, or English muffins.

Croissants make fantastic sandwiches, anything from a hot morning over-easy egg with a slice of Canadian bacon and some hollandaise sauce to a cold chicken salad with crunchy slices of celery and creamy mayo at lunch.

Flat bread can be easily made at home and fresh flat bread is a treat for a sandwich, especially when you are adventurous when adding other ingredients like rosemary or chunks of olive to the dough before cooking. Focaccia is a stronger tasting flat bread, and a delicious addition to a sandwich. Flat bread has the added benefit of making a great open sandwich that's much like pizza.

Pita is the perfect bread for those slippery and sliding sandwich ingredients. They can't fall out the bottom.

A baguette can be cut into several great sandwiches. Crusty rolls with chewy centers like a Kaiser roll are supreme for that perfect sandwich.

When you go to the store, look for the rolls. Would those chewy soft rolls make a great sandwich? Of course! But those Kaiser rolls would be even better, with their crunchy crusts.

And don't forget the wraps. They are sandwiches, too, in different parts of the world. They don't need to have their traditional contents, though those are usually delicious. Try flour tortillas or chapatti's as a wrap. They're both hardy for hand food. A tortilla can be heated for pliability within about 30-40 seconds in a covered dish in the microwave. A chapatti is very easy to make. If you want to have a hot sandwich, as crepe is also easy to make.

Bread or Rolls? Which would you want for your sandwich?

Rolls in a Turkish hotel
Rolls in a Turkish hotel | Source
Breads on a cart in Tunisia
Breads on a cart in Tunisia | Source

What the choice of bread can do for a sandwich

And then there are meats. Yes, lunch meats are popular. Cured sausages and ham are a hit. So are sliced roast beef and pork. Chicken or turkey breast is also yummy. But let's look at other options for meat sandwiches. First, that beef has a tongue and all kinds of other parts that would work well, cold or hot, in a sandwich. So does the pork. The chicken has dark meat that's both moist and fantastic in either a chicken sandwich or a chicken salad sandwich. While you know that a cold roasted chicken would be a natural for a sandwich, have you ever considered taking the meat off cold fried chicken for a sandwich? Have you ever tried a gizzard salad sandwich? If the gizzards are cooked long and slow in a covered pan, it's chewy and yummy.

Hamburger and sausage definitely qualify as sandwich meat. You know the traditional fixings for those. Now it's time to branch out and add some of the suggestions here.

If you haven't made a meatloaf in ages, do that (the best meatloaf is half hamburger and half sausage). Meatloaf in a sandwich, either hot or cold, needs little else to fit perfectly into your day.

Rabbit makes a great sandwich. If you lived in Peru, guinea pig might also make a great sandwich (but don't tell the kids). Duck works. Lamb is fantastic. Buffalo is hearty and tasty. Chorizo is great. Bacon, no matter how fatty, is a secret sin, because it's all flavor.

Consider the seafood. The options are almost unlimited. I'm sure you've thought of a fish sandwich, either as baked fish, a fish patty or fish sticks cooked for a quick lunch. Of course, canned tuna made into tuna salad is familiar. But what about buying canned mackerel instead and making mackerel salad sandwiches? It's not only inexpensive, but has a robust flavor that can be spread thin by adding chopped onions, celery and green peppers.

Canned salmon would make a great salmon salad or would be wonderful as salmon patties. The patties could be in either hot or cold sandwich. Hot salmon patties make a great and simple hot breakfast sandwich on a croissant with a creamy dill sauce.

Oysters or clams (fried or smoked) are also great in a big Kaiser roll with vinegar or pickles and crunchy lettuce or green peppers. Sardines make a satisfying sandwich on sliced rye with mustard, mayo and butter lettuce.

A crab sandwich is very special, and is great on a soft bun. Of course, lobster is also wonderful in a sandwich, but I don't have lobster enough to eat it as anything but a rare delicacy. (We get crab, tuna and salmon on the west coast. I remember those wonderful lobsters when I lived in New England.)

Well, this is just the beginning of the sandwich adventures that you can take. I know that some of these tasty sandwich containers and combinations blur the traditional meaning of sandwich, but that's the beauty of a sandwich. It can become whatever you want, as long as it can make its way to your mouth and make you smile with its tasty ingredients and satisfying textures.


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