Pan Bagnat and Other Grown-Up Sandwiches

Sandwiches can be far more appealing than you might realize.

By FamilyTime


Forget about peanut butter and jelly. Block memories of tuna on rye and grilled American cheese. Sandwiches can be so much more.

Think of the whole package when you think of sandwiches. Crusty bakery loaves, grilled vegetables, tangy, sharp cheeses, and salty imported meats conspire to make some of the best sandwiches on the planet.

For spectacular sandwiches, wean yourself off plastic-wrapped, pre-sliced bread.

Buy loaves of sourdough, skinny baguettes, and dark, nutty pumpernickel at the bakery and slice the bread yourself.

Think about filling corn and wheat tortillas, floury pita bread, and chewy bagels.

After all, a sandwich is a filling organized by bread. The bread should be as good as the filling.

Although a universal meal, not all sandwiches are immediately recognizable as such. Tacos are sandwiches, as are falafel - deep-fried balls of seasoned chickpeas stuffed in pita pockets.

The French make toasted ham and cheese sandwiches called croque monsieurs, which require their own sandwich grill.

In some areas of the country, submarine sandwiches are called grinders, hoagies, or heros.

A pan bagnat is a sandwich made from a large, split loaf, brushed inside with olive oil and then filled with any number of ingredients. Classically, these are sliced raw vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes as well as sliced olives, anchovies, and hard-cooked eggs. But anything you like will work.

The trick to a great pan bagnat is to drizzle the filling with a great vinaigrette, wrap it in plastic wrap or foil and then let it marinate for several hours.

Fillings and Fixins'
When it comes to sandwiches, almost anything goes.

Don't neglect fish and seafood. Grilled fish, pan-fried soft-shell crabs, delicate shrimp or lobster salad are tasty in sandwiches.

Meat can be roast chicken, grilled steak, leg or lamb, or pork loin. Imported cured meat, such as Parma or Westphalian ham, sausages, and salamis all are delicious in sandwiches.

Soft and firm cheeses, paired with raw, roasted, or grilled vegetables are magnificent in sandwiches.

Think beyond the usual to moisten sandwiches. Mix mayo or butter with mustard, garlic, or chopped fresh herbs. Spread bread or rolls with pesto or chutney.

Rely on fruity olive oil and good, tangy vinegar to brighten the flavors of a sandwich. Drizzle the filling with homemade vinaigrettes.

Use watercress, field greens, baby lettuces and sprouts instead of iceberg lettuce. Encase pickles and peppers inside the sandwich.

Open-faced or closed, healthful or slightly decadent, sandwiches are appealing for far more than the brown bag destined for the office. Use you imagination - just about anything goes!