Mark Bittman’s Guide to Sandwich Nirvana

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(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

For many of us, sandwiches are seen as a quick lunch, something that can be thrown together with a few dibs and dabs of whatever we may have laying around in the fridge. A quick slather of mayonnaise, a few pieces of salami, a slice of cheese, and lunch is complete. Perhaps a can of tuna is more your style. Or maybe you’re an impromptu egg salad kind of guy or gal. Well, Mark Bittman would like to remind us all that it can get a bit more exciting.

In his column for The New York Timeslast week, Bittman wrote about the lost art of the inspired sandwich. He notes, “For something that has almost unlimited potential, the sandwich has become staid and unimaginative.”

Perhaps this because we fall into routine, or the acknowledgment that it’s a quick weekday lunch food that can be put together in a flash — something to nourish us in the 30 minutes we have for a lunch break. Bittman encourages us to think more broadly, reminding us that “making sandwiches, after all, isn’t so much about cooking as assembling.” With a little forethought and planning, we can all have much more interesting and memorable sandwiches in 2013.

The first thing to consider? Find good bread. Then think about spreads you like beyond the typical mayonnaise. Leftover pesto makes a great choice, as does cream cheese, salty butter or a mustard you really love. Then comes the “body” of the sandwich, which could include any variety or combination of vegetables, meats or cheeses. Beyond the ordinary, Bittman suggests loosely scrambled eggs, pickled herring or thinly-sliced asparagus. Add a little garnish (cornichons or radishes, anyone?) and you’re on your way.

What is your very favorite sandwich to make at home?