Sandwich This Into Your Spring


At the first blast of warm balmy air, my thoughts turn to dining outdoors. Not necessarily on the patio with the grill fired up, but an afternoon on a grassy knoll or early evening watching the sunset on a beach. (A perfect venue for a late-spring Shabbat dinner.)

The scene is set; now for the menu.

The sandwich, a beloved meal between two pieces of bread that can be eaten out of hand, comes immediately to mind, along with memories of favorites that most of us have enjoyed throughout our gastronomical experiences: pastrami on rye, bagels and lox, tuna on toast, and cream cheese and jelly, just to mention a few.

While these old war horses endure, today's sandwich must meet the demands of the times. Fit for an entire meal, it is the perfect answer to a portable dinner that tastes delicious without the fuss of a table setting.

The sandwich is also the champion of the "non-cook," as even someone with no culinary skills can produce a good one. Coffee shops, delis and diners still turn out our childhood favorites, but look at the menus of upscale restaurants and you'll note that fillings and bread types are as diverse as they are delectably different.

Besides upscale olive-, raisin- or nut-studded country breads to hold your creative sandwich fillings, try pita pockets, large flour tortillas and soft aram bread.

Then get out the wicker basket and run for the hills (or beach) to feast on the goodies. Remember to bring a bottle of wine and some fresh fruit for dessert.

Ratatouille-and-Spinach Pockets

2 Tbsps. olive oil 
1 onion, diced 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1 small eggplant, diced 
1 small red bell pepper, seeded, deveined and diced 
4 oz. small cremini mushrooms, quartered 
1 cup chopped tomatoes 
1/2 tsp. dried thyme 
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
3 cups spinach leaves, coarsely chopped 
6 full size pita breads, cut in half to make 12 pockets

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.

Sauté the onion, garlic, eggplant, pepper and mushrooms until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and thyme, cover, and simmer 8 minutes.

Uncover and simmer another 5 minutes. Stir in basil. Let cool; add salt and pepper.

Line pita halves with spinach and fill with ratatouille.

Makes 6 pita pockets.

Greek-Style Tuna Pockets

1 can (7 oz.) tuna, drained and flaked 
2 small firm zucchini, coarsely chopped 
2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, coarsely chopped 
1/4 lb. feta cheese, crumbled 
2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice 
3 Tbsps. olive oil 
1 tsp. dried oregano 
1 cup chopped fresh parsley 
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
6 mini-pita breads

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except the pita.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Make a slit in one side of pita bread and fill.

Makes 6 pita pockets.

Cottage-Cheese Delight

2 cups red radishes, diced 
1 English (hot house) cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced 
6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced 
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese 
3 Tbsps. plain yogurt 
1/2 tsp. paprika 
2 Tbsps. snipped fresh dill 
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
6 8-inch flour tortillas 
oak-leaf lettuce leaves

In a medium bowl, combine the radishes, cucumber and scallions.

In a small bowl, combine the cottage cheese, yogurt, paprika and dill.

Add to vegetables and mix well. Add salt and pepper.

Place lettuce leaves on tortilla and top with salad.

Makes 6 tortilla wraps.

Pan Bagna

1 long baguette (about 12 oz.) 
1 Tbsp. olive oil 
2 cups chopped tomatoes, drained 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1 cup niçoise olives, pitted and coarsely chopped 
2 Tbsps. capers, drained and rinsed 
1 small red onion, diced 
2 cups cooked chicken, diced 
1 bunch watercress, leaves coarsely chopped 
3 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley 
3 Tbsps. red-wine vinegar 
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut off the top third of the baguette lengthwise. Hollow out the centers, saving about 2 cups of crumbs.

Brush inside of the baguette lightly with oil.

In a large bowl, combine the crumbs with all remaining ingredients. Add salt and pepper.

Fill baguette bottom with crumb mixture. Cover with top and press down.

Cut into 4 equal sections and wrap each in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Serves 4.

'New Age' P, B & J

8 slices raisin bread 
1 cup peanut butter 
4 slices cheddar cheese 
1 large ripe pear, cored and thinly sliced 
1 cup watercress leaves

Lightly toast the bread.

Spread 4 slices with peanut butter.

Top with a slice of cheese, several pear slices and watercress leaves. Cover with remaining bread slices.

Cut in half diagonally.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. Among the six books she's co-authored is Jewish Holiday Feasts.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here