Sandwiches are still your best bet at picnics.
I’ve tried getting fancy with chopped salads in large plastic containers; poached salmon and barbecued chicken, which are messy to eat; and canning jars layered with roasted vegetables and quinoa. But they are a headache to lug, and leaking is an ever-present danger.
On the other hand, sandwiches are easy to pack and require no silverware, plates or utensils. All the prep work is done at home — not at a park, the beach, an outdoor concert or, worse yet, a hiking trail.
Well-planned sandwiches are an extremely efficient way of delivering a balanced meal. The ideal sandwich contains a combination of protein (meat, fish, hard-boiled eggs or cheese), along with greens, veggies or fruit all piled on good-quality bread.
People can design their sandwich of choice. No two diners need to eat the same combination of ingredients. Leftovers, such as meatloaf and sliced chicken, create great sandwiches.
Here are a few tips: Tomatoes become soggy in make-ahead and eat-later sandwiches. For the same reason, be judicious about how much mayonnaise, mustard or other spreads you use. Avoid chunks of chicken or turkey, which are hard to eat on the go and cause sandwiches to break apart. Skip salty foods, such as lox, which make people thirsty. Wrap sandwiches in aluminum foil, which can double as a plate, making one less thing to schlep.
For the well-rounded picnic, take along potato chips, fruit, your favorite cookies, thirst-quenching drinks and a garbage bag. Because sandwiches are an efficient way to feed a crowd outdoors, the host can relax like a guest.
The ingredients below make one sandwich. If serving more people, add the appropriate amount of ingredients.
Light-Smoked Turkey Sandwich | Meat
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon dried tarragon
A squirt of fresh lemon juice
2 slices of multigrain bread
¼ pound smoked turkey, sliced thin
4 slices cucumber, peeled
4 slices peeled and cored Granny Smith apple
¼ teaspoon capers, drained on paper towels
2 leaves of bibb lettuce, rinsed and dried in a salad spinner or paper towels
In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, tarragon and lemon juice, until well combined.
Place the slices of bread on a cutting board. Spread the mayonnaise mixture evenly on one side of both slices of bread. Starting with the first slice, lay turkey over the mayonnaise, followed by cucumber and apple. Scatter the capers over the apples. Place the bibb lettuce over them.
Place the second slice of bread, mayonnaise side down, on top. With a sharp knife, cut the sandwich in half.
Nouvelle Roast Beef Sandwich | Meat
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
2 slices rye bread
¼ pound thinly sliced roast beef, preferably rare
1 piece of red onion, sliced very thin
1 cornichon pickle, sliced thin
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
1 leaf romaine lettuce, broken into pieces
In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and garlic powder until well combined.
Place the slices of bread on a cutting board. Spread the mayonnaise-ketchup mixture evenly on one side of both slices of bread. Starting with the first slice, place the roast beef over the mayonnaise-ketchup mixture, followed by the red onion, pickle and dill, ending with the romaine lettuce.
Place the second slice of bread, mayonnaise-ketchup side down, on top. With a sharp knife, cut the sandwich in half.
Italian Deli Mozzarella Sandwich | Dairy
2 slices of sourdough bread
4 slices of mozzarella, drained on paper towels
3 pieces of sundried tomatoes, drained and sliced
6-8 basil leaves, chopped
6 thinly sliced pieces of yellow, red or orange pepper
6 pitted Kalamata olives, drained and thinly sliced
6-8 arugula leaves
Place the slices of bread on a cutting board. Place the mozzarella cheese over one slice of bread, followed by the sundried tomatoes. Scatter the basil leaves on top, followed by the pepper slices, olives and arugula. Place the second slice of bread on top. With a sharp knife, cut the sandwich in half.
Leftover Meatloaf Sandwich | Meat
1-2 tablespoons ketchup
2 slices country white bread
2 slices of leftover meatloaf, homemade or store bought
3-4 slices of sweet and sour pickles, drained on paper towels
2 scallions, sliced thin
1-2 iceberg lettuce leaves, broken into pieces
Place the slices of bread on a cutting board. Spread ketchup on one side of each slice of bread. On the first slice of bread, place the meatloaf slices over the ketchup. Place pickles over the meatloaf. Sprinkle scallions over the pickles. Place the lettuce over the scallions.
Place the second slice of bread, ketchup side down, on top. With a sharp knife, cut the sandwich in half.