Whether we’re cutting carbs, going gluten-free or scaling back on sodium, fewer loaves of bread are landing in our shopping carts these days. But what does that mean for our favorite hand-held meal, the sandwich? Though you might think that a sandwich, by definition, requires two slabs of bread, these breadless creations prove your sandwich days are far from over. Cutting out the loaves, buns and slices? These ingenious substitutes are the best things since sliced bread:
Is your cold-cuts-on-wheat sandwich routine growing tiresome? We hear you. Whenever we need a dose of creativity to liven up our bread-based meals, we turn to Food Network’s resident Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro. Here are a few favorite Sandwich King creations — some more over the top than others, but all guaranteed to never bore your taste buds.
Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese with Bacon Two Ways
In the ultra-decadent category, Jeff’s grilled cheese sandwich is unlike any you’ve ever had. A helping of creamy mac and cheese makes up the super-cheesy filling, and crispy bacon adds crunch. Read more
Po’ boys are iconic in coastal cuisine, especially in southern Louisiana and along the Gulf of Mexico. They’re a New Orleans classic said to have originated in the early twentieth century, the name originating from the hungry plea, “Give a po’ boy a sandwich?” The original po’ boys were hollowed-out loaves of French bread layered with meat, brown gravy and fried potatoes. You can still get roast beef po’ boys with “debris” gravy, a flavorful jus with bits and pieces of roast beef in it.
However, with the Gulf at New Orleans’ front door, seafood has a mighty hold on Creole and Cajun cuisine.
Since time began, folks with less have harvested from the river and seas, for free. We may think of seafood as expensive now, but if you live on a body of water, dinner just might be as close as a hook or a net and a little bit of patience. Seafood po’ boys include fried oysters, fried catfish, fried soft-shell crab and, yes, fried shrimp. Don’t even think about cranking up the deep fryer or even heating up the grill, because these BBQ Shrimp Po’ Boys are poached in a highly seasoned garlic and lemon-butter sauce.
Sandwiches are never boring when you think beyond the bun. Dieters have been swapping slices for lettuce leaves for years, but even carb embracers need a little break from white or wheat. Witness the enduring ramen burger craze, doughnut breakfast sandwiches from a certain New England-based chain and the amazing “fryders” I discovered earlier this year at a food truck.
Food Network Kitchen created these 10 easy-to-make-at-home reinventions to save us from our summer sandwich slump. Some are more virtuous than others, but all of them are over-the-top delicious.
While most triple-decker sandwiches conjure images of meaty monstrosities bursting between bread slices with all things cured and smoked, it’s indeed possible to build a vegetarian version of the classic club; the secret is in layering textures, and relying on the freshness of produce and cheese for flavor instead of meat.
Ready to enjoy in a hurry for lunch or dinner, Food Network Kitchen’s Veggie Lover’s Club Sandwich (pictured above) boasts layer after layer of veggies and cheese, plus one unexpected ingredient: smoked tofu. Although tofu often gets a bad rap for its inherent lack of flavor, it easily adopts the taste of a marinade or sauce, which is why smoked tofu proves bold every time. If you’re not a fan of tofu or don’t have any on hand, just swap in smoked mozzarella instead for a similar experience. While most traditional club sandwiches feature simple romaine lettuce and sliced tomatoes, this one is made with peppery arugula and chewy sun-dried tomatoes, which, when combined with cool cucumbers and provolone cheese, offer a robust taste. For a next-level pop of flavor, skip the everyday mustard or mayonnaise, and smear sliced whole-wheat bread with a creamy mixture of mashed avocado, garlic and oregano.
During the fall and winter months, cauliflower becomes one of my staple vegetables, and we end up eating it at least once a week (and even more often during the depth of the season). The only trouble with my cauliflower habit is that it always ends up as a side dish and never as the dinnertime star.
That’s not to say that I don’t like the three ways I make it (mashed, roasted or baked in a cheesy sauce). But lately I’ve been seeing lots of ways that people are transforming cauliflower into the main event, and I want in on that action.
Remember when grilled cheese meant nothing more than bread, cheese and butter? It turns out that’s all just a starting point for this cheesy hand held favorite. Before taking out the panini press or heating up a skillet, help your grilled cheeses grow up by stacking them high with all kinds of fun add-ins. With just a little creativity, grilled cheese can mature into a cheesy meal worthy of lunch or dinner. And, when it comes to comfort food, few things in this world can compare.
1. Perfected — For the Barefoot Contessa, the Ultimate Grilled Cheese means layering thick slices of smoky bacon, multiple types of cheese and even a swipe of Dijon on sourdough.
2. Wide Open — Assembled on a crusty halved baguette, this Open-Faced Tomato Grilled Cheese by Food Network Magazine is so good it doesn’t even need that top layer of bread.
3. Smoky Spin — Pack all of the flavors of chile relleno, a Mexican favorite, into Roasted Poblano and Mushroom Grilled Cheese. With a noted smokiness for chipotle peppers, this sandwich has all the vibes of the traditional dish.
Our kids love eggs. We make hard-boiled eggs with bunny faces for breakfast and snacks all the time. But now we’ve moved on to a lunchtime classic: egg salad sandwiches. The kiddie update? Pickles. These sandwiches are simple: just eggs, real mayonnaise, a squirt of mustard and diced dill pickles. High-protein, easy to prepare and even easier on your wallet, these have become a lunchtime staple for the preschool set at our place. Try them with your kids this week.
Buttery, gooey and warm, grilled cheese is a timeless comfort food, but this signature sandwich goes beyond white bread and slices of American cheese. While the tomato soup-paired classic is indeed a favorite among kids — and, of course, adults at times — it’s easy to dress up this between-bread creation and turn it into a grown-up meal by making a few simple ingredient swaps. Think of flavor combinations you know work well and use those to inspire your filling picks. Re-create the taste of French onion soup by layering sweet, soft caramelized onions with nutty Gruyere cheese. Craving a bite that’s both sweet and savory? Try combining indulgent Camembert with crisp apple slices and caramel sauce.
Food Network Kitchens embraces smoky flavors in its recipe for Roasted Poblano and Mushroom Grilled Cheese (pictured above), an easy-to-make dish that can serve as a simple dinner or a go-to lunch. After sauteing earthy, meaty portobellos, layer them atop thick-cut Cuban sandwich bread with creamy Monterey Jack cheese and sliced peppers, then finish the sandwich with a second slice of bread, this time brushed with tangy chipotle in adobo puree (it’s the crimson-colored puree inside a can of chipotle peppers in adobo). The secret to this recipe is roasting the poblanos — all it takes is a few minutes under the broiler or over an open flame to char the skin on these mild peppers and replace their usual bite with a tender consistency. Be sure to brush the outer sides of both slices of bread with butter to guarantee a deliciously golden-brown, crunchy exterior.
During my first few years of elementary school, my family lived in Los Angeles. Because it was almost always warm enough to eat outside, my school didn’t have a cafeteria. Instead, we just had an outdoor courtyard with plastic picnic tables and a small window through which hot lunches were dispensed.
I was mostly a brown-bag kid in those days, but occasionally, when something on the monthly menu particularly spoke to me, my parents would give me a dollar and let me buy lunch. I always asked to buy lunch on the days when they served sloppy joes.
I think part of the reason had to do with how it was served. The saucy meat came packaged in a little aluminum tray, covered tightly with foil. On top, they’d stack a waxed paper dish that held the bun and a plastic cup of applesauce or fruit cocktail. You’d go to your seat with a carton of milk, a napkin and a plastic spork to assemble your very own sandwich. I loved it.