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Issue 35 - A very modern sandwich

Scotland Magazine Issue 35
November 2007


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A very modern sandwich

Sue Lawrence provides some more unusual ideas for the humble sandwich

We all do it. We know that at lunchtime we ought to be crunching into our tupperware-packed salads and nibbling on our nutritious, homemade sandwiches. But what do we do? We opt for a shopbought, cling-wrapped sandwich with the same old spread and some rather tired lettuce, processed cheese or ‘plastic’ ham. And although, admittedly, many bought sandwiches can be exciting and tasty, there are far too many which are low on filling, heavy on the margarine and really rather depressing.

For those of us who would rather die than have to get up even 10 minutes earlier in the morning to make a packed lunch, there is hope. Many sandwiches, salads and other lunchtime goodies can be prepared completely the night before, refrigerated and popped into your bag as you leave. It is, however, a good idea to write yourself a note in large writing next to the kettle, reminding yourself to remove your lunch from the fridge. Or if you never even bother with tea or coffee in the morning, place the note beside your toothbrush. There is nothing more frustrating than to realise as you sit on the train for work that your lovingly prepared sandwiches are still at home, where you put them last night.

So, once you have decided that it is more interesting, healthy and also inexpensive to prepare your own lunch to take to work, you then have to think of a few exciting ideas for sandwiches. And with all the wonderful array of breads from all over the world to choose from, you could go for weeks and never become bored. Some breads such as pittas or bagels I find less palatable unless either superfresh or warmed slightly. But if you do have freshly made bagels, then spread thickly with cream cheese and top with either smoked turkey and a fruity chutney or sunflower seeds and chopped dates. You could even poach a small salmon fillet and place this – once cold – on top of the cream cheese and finish with a dollop of lime-zapped mayonnaise and a little salad. Getting your teeth round this is perhaps not the prettiest of sights, so this is the type of sandwich to eat in splendid isolation.

Another solitary feast comes in the shape of a ‘hero.’ Also known as a ‘sub,’ it is made from a torpedo (submarine) – shaped loaf and filled with an obscene amount of delicious fillings such as cheese, ham, salami, olives, lettuce and onions rings.

This makes ideal packed lunch fare, as it will keep, wrapped in foil, for more than 24 hours. Another sandwich which can be prepared in advance is Pan Bagnat, one of Provence’s many rustic specialities. Made in a wide baguette (not a thin flute) or ‘pain de campagne,’ the fillings are piled into the hollowed-out loaf. You can fill with salade nicoise ingredients, by using tuna, tomatoes, lettuce, hard-boiled eggs and black olives (or tapenade). Or you can use grilled peppers, aubergines, mozzarella, rocket and sun-dried tomatoes. Whichever filling you decide on, it is important to douse the insides of the loaf liberally with olive oil, to keep it moist. A similar sandwich loaf is the Muffuletta, from New Orleans, which is a round Italian loaf packed with olives, pickles, salami, Italian cheeses and mortadella, then cut into wedges, like a cake.

In Scotland a traditional ‘piece’ (sandwich) might be made from oatcakes, not bread: two thick oatcakes (or bannocks) clamped together with cheese or perhaps farmhouse butter and heather honey. The famous Glasgewian ‘jeely piece’ was less elegant – sliced white bread thickly spread with jam – a mainstay of many poor urban Scots over the decades.

If you would prefer to use a loaf of good fresh, sliced bread and make up ‘regular’ sandwiches at home, then think about some new fillings. Smoked venison is wonderful, served with some horseradish-flavoured mayonnaise, on rye bread. Amixture of hummous, falafels and chopped tomatoes makes a truly satisfying sandwich in fresh pitta or Turkish bread. Chargrilled chicken is good with a smear of olive paste or pesto, on ciabatta. And for those who enjoy cold sausages, halve some cooked pork sausages, top with wholegrain mustard and wedge between two thick slices of crusty cottage loaf.

Here are some ideas for warm sandwiches, which admittedly have to be eaten freshly-made, but now and again, a sandwich can leave the confines of a tupperware box and become the main event itself.

Also known as Black Pudding Tomato sandwich, this is great combination of flavours – but only the best black
pudding will do. One of my favourites is Stornoway black pudding, available from Lewis Butcher Charles Macleod

4 thick slices black pudding, skinned
4 ciabatta rolls
tapenade (black olive paste)
8 thick slices tomato

1. Fry the black pudding in a little olive oil (or
grill) until crispy outside and soft inside
2. Open rolls and spread one side with
tapenade. Top with hot black pudding then
tomato, season with sea salt, clamp on lid
and devour hot

2 chicken breasts, skin off
olive oil
350g / 12 oz spinach, washed, cooked
until just wilted
150g / 5 1/2 oz mozzarella, thinly sliced
4 wheat flour tortillas
2 tsp Dijon mustard

1. Rub the chicken in olive oil then sear on a
hot griddle until just cooked then cut on the
diagonal into thin slices
2. Ensure the spinach is thoroughly dry by
patting dry with kitchen paper
3. Set the tortillas on a board, cover one half
of each with the cheese then the spinach.
Season well then top with the chicken
4. Smear the edges of each tortilla with
mustard then close over to form a half
moon shape
5. Set these on a baking sheet and place
near the top of a preheated oven (220ºC /
425ºF / Gas7 for 8-10 minutes then cut into
half before serving hot

Serves 2
200g / 7 oz canned tuna, drained
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
3 level tbsps mayonnaise
4 slices of wholemeal / granary bread
85g/ 3 oz grated cheddar cheese

1. Mix the first four ingredients together
with salt and pepper
2. Toast the bread lightly on either side then
place on a grill pan and top with the mixture
3. Sprinkle over the grated cheese then grill
– under a preheated grill – for 3-4 minutes
until bubbling and melted. Invert one slice
onto another to make two sandwiches
then eat at once, with knife and fork