Friday, December 15, 2017
Cooking

Up your sandwich game with these 12 ideas

Sandwiches are the ultimate creative food outlet.

Put enough protein and vegetables and schmears between two pieces of bread, and a sammie can be suitable for any meal, a way to get ingredients to party in a way they never organically would.

Sandwiches can also be pedestrian (though sometimes, as with a classic PB and J, that's satisfying, too). But they don't have to be. We asked an expert how to take your sandwich game up a level.

Matt Bonano, owner of the sandwich and cheese shop Brooklyn South in St. Petersburg, considers almost every filling squeezed between a bread product a sandwich. Burger? Yes. Quesadilla? Sure. Crepes? Why not?

For Bonano, building a sandwich is all about having fun, being creative and mixing flavors to make something better than the sum of its parts.

"If there's any place there are no rules, it's in the sandwich world," he said.

One of his big tips for home cooks putting together their own sammies is to rely heavily on leftovers. Next time you cook salmon, double the amount of servings and repurpose it the next day between two slices of bread. (He likes to dredge his fillets in an egg wash and pan-fry them.) Meatloaf, roast chicken and large cuts of beef can be used the same way.

And if you do opt for standard sliced meat from a deli counter, try asking for a thicker portion, then grilling just until it gets some gentle grill marks.

"You'd be amazed how much more flavor you can add this way," Bonano said.

He loves to play around with sandwich recipes at his shop on Central Avenue (which just expanded from tiny to slightly-less-tiny, going from two tables to seating for 23 people), coming up with new combinations constantly. He rattles off some of his recent favorites, which range from whipped ricotta cheese with roasted fruits and honey to peanut butter and fig jam to a corned beef-Gruyere-sauerkraut rollup. His personal go-tos? Tuna salad, made with lemon juice and olive oil instead of mayonnaise and topped with crunchy veggies like fennel, celery and capers; and anything with pulled pork.

Other sandwich-making tips from Bonano: For the best results, toast your bread before applying sandwich fillings; keep the dry components of a sandwich toward the top, and make sure wet items like tomatoes and lettuce are in the middle so they don't turn either piece of bread soggy; use romaine or oak leaf lettuces, which have a nice crunch, instead of iceberg, which he refers to as "sawdust." Don't be afraid to change the composition — think fried sandwiches, open faced, pressed. Make something up. Play with your food.

"Trying to make a meal and put it between two pieces of bread — that's what I love to do," Bonano said.

Now it's your turn to build your own sandwich. Follow the pairings below for some suggestions.

Meat

Start with ... Roast beef

Add ... pumpernickel bread; red onion, tomato, lettuce; cheddar cheese; horseradish sauce.

 

Start with ... Turkey

Add ... sourdough bread; sprouts; provolone cheese; whole-grain mustard.

 

Start with ... Chicken

Add ... ciabatta bread; tomato, mozzarella cheese; balsamic vinegar; basil

 

Start with ... Ham

Add ... rye bread; lettuce and pickle; Swiss cheese; chipotle mayonnaise

 

Fish

Start with ... Tuna (canned, in water, mixed with olive oil)

Add ... whole wheat roll; arugula, cucumber, sliced olives; mayonnaise, fresh dill

 

Start with ... Salmon (blackened)

Add ... brioche bun; avocado, red onion, tomato; mayonnaise, lemon zest

 

Start with ... Cod (breaded and fried)

Add ... sourdough bread; bibb lettuce, pickles; American cheese (optional); tartar sauce

 

Start with ... Shrimp (deveined and sliced in half)

Add ... baguette; celery, grated sweet onion, capers; mayonnaise, hot pepper sauce

 

Vegetarian

Start with ... Peanut butter

Add ... whole wheat bread; sliced banana; honey, slivered almonds, raisins

 

Start with ... Beets (cooked and sliced thin)

Add ... ciabatta bread; red onion, spinach; feta cheese; hummus;

 

Start with ... Roasted veggies (try squash, red pepper, mushrooms)

Add ... baguette; sprouts, watercress; goat cheese; pesto

 

Start with ... Black bean burger (store-bought or homemade)

Add ... hamburger bun; shredded carrots; cheddar cheese; ranch dressing

 

     
   
Comments
Five trendy gift ideas for the cook in your life

Five trendy gift ideas for the cook in your life

Giving the gift of cooking isn’t really something you can mess up. Whether gifting a gadget or paying for a class, you can encourage a budding culinary enthusiast or give a seasoned veteran a new toy to play with. Here are five ideas for holiday gi...
Published: 12/13/17
Four ideas for edible gifts you can find throughout Tampa Bay

Four ideas for edible gifts you can find throughout Tampa Bay

Carlynn Crosby, Times correspondent Florida Pure Sea Salt Harvested from Tampa Bay’s waters, these handcrafted salts come in flavors like maple bacon, Sriracha, lemongrass, habanero or black truffle. They retail for $15 a jar online, at flor...
Published: 12/13/17
Six kitchen gadgets that are completely useless

Six kitchen gadgets that are completely useless

If you’re buying me a gift this year, don’t get me an Instant Pot. I’m serious. I don’t subscribe to the "you can never be too thin or too rich" school of thought, but the "you can never have too much kitchen cabinet space" is dead right in my book. ...
Published: 12/13/17
From the food editor: How to make perfect, hot Crispy Roasted Potatoes

From the food editor: How to make perfect, hot Crispy Roasted Potatoes

Sometimes, you just want a hot, crispy potato.I didn’t get home from work the other night craving a full dinner; I arrived at my house with cartoon visions of potatoes in my head, and knew I had to make it happen.I wasn’t looking for a fast food fren...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Party like it’s Christmas in Narnia with these recipes perfect for tea time

Party like it’s Christmas in Narnia with these recipes perfect for tea time

As a kid, I always looked for doors into other worlds. I blame Narnia. In C.S. Lewis’ classic novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, four British children step through a magic wardrobe into Narnia, a world filled with talking animals and plenty ...
Published: 12/12/17
Cooking challenge: Making homemade edible Christmas gifts

Cooking challenge: Making homemade edible Christmas gifts

Should I infuse this vodka with bacon?That’s not a question I expected to ask myself on a Sunday morning, but here we are. This Christmas, I’m giving homemade gifts: infused liquor and chocolate fudge. But I didn’t realize it would be so hard to find...
Published: 12/12/17
Lightened Shepherd’s Pie comforting, quick

Lightened Shepherd’s Pie comforting, quick

When the weather gets cooler, we want to tuck into comfort food in our home. Doing a recipe makeover on a tasty-but-less-than-healthy dish is one of my favorite challenges. Today, I’m taking on a wintertime classic with my Lightened Shepherd’s Pie. T...
Published: 12/08/17
Green Salad With Pumpkin Vinaigrette celebrates holiday season

Green Salad With Pumpkin Vinaigrette celebrates holiday season

By MELISSA D’ARABIANSummer may officially be the season of green salads, but wintertime versions have advantages that make them worth exploring. The cooler weather seasonable greens are hearty and darker green, which makes them nutrient-rich. And, th...
Published: 12/08/17
My holiday tradition: Making a whole bunch of beef Wellington

My holiday tradition: Making a whole bunch of beef Wellington

For the past 20 years, my family has looked forward to a boat parade party hosted by some of our dearest friends. The hostess provides cocktails, appetizers, dinner, desserts and a trombone choir to perform from a balcony overlooking her pool. My fav...
Published: 12/06/17
Tampa Bay Times readers share their treasured holiday food traditions

Tampa Bay Times readers share their treasured holiday food traditions

When we opened this year’s call for reader submissions to any treasured holiday food tradition, I had no idea what to expect. That was kind of the point. I wanted to see what such a wide gamut would inspire. And you delivered. The stories that reader...
Published: 12/06/17