Making sandwiches for dinner sounds inherently modest, if not a little lazy. What, you didn’t want to cook? the family might ask.
Well, yeah, not really. Not in the heat of summer.
Compound this dinner/sandwich situation by completely eschewing all forms of cooking — not even deigning to toast a slice of bread — and the meal would only further appear to wave a flag of culinary surrender.
Is it giving in, though?
Sure, there are all sorts of boring sandwiches that can truly bum out a dinner table. But, like many other simple food preparations, sandwiches can be so much more: jazzy, worldly, fresh, inspired.
The trick to elevating traditional stacks to special status, especially without the aid of cooking, is to think beyond turkey on whole wheat. Call on unexpected, worldly pairings, make the sandwiches seasonal and vegetable-heavy, and be generous with acidic ingredients (such as citrus or vinegar) to give them tang and vibrancy.
You can start by reworking what’s sandwiched, which often is some sort of meat. Go vegetarian with chickpeas (themselves a rather meaty legume). Mash them with jarred piquillo peppers, lemon juice and olive oil, and stuff this Iberian mixture into pitas with dressed arugula and feta. Or give the Vietnamese staple banh mi a twist by calling on roast beef and a spicy Sriracha aioli. Tuck the meat into a section of baguette and top with a tangle of daikon and carrot ribbons.
Even plain old roasted turkey breast has a place in this fresh formula. Give it a boost with the distinctive combination of pickled red onions, smoked gouda and fresh cherries.
Tote these sandwiches to the dinner table with the assurance of a thoughtful cook. They did not command hours of prep time, but they are filled with summer’s best and inspiration from around the globe, making them just the thing for the warm nights to come.
Rosenfeld is the author, most recently, of “Sear, Sauce and Serve” (Running Press, 2011).