There are a few secrets that make your sandwich instantly Instagrammable. These are the tips I follow to make a good sandwich great.
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It was my 8th grade summer when I embraced my independent wings. That was the year we were old enough to take the bus by ourselves to walk the floors of Ogden City Mall. We looked for boys and then looked away when they looked at us. We hummed along to Culture Club as we wandered through the aisles of Contempo Casuals. We sorted through the fishnet gloves ala Madonna and off-the-shoulder sweatshirts ala Flashdance wishing we had the money and the guts to pull off the look the girls in Seventeen magazine did.
Ogden was not the fashion capital of the world, but then neither were we.
For us, going to the mall wasn’t really about shopping. It’s where the food that every 8th grader’s palate craves. And where our debate on what to eat always began.
The options were limited. Our favorites were Dairy Queen for fries and a shake, Hot Dog On a Stick for the obvious, or Orange Julius for what I still deem one of my most favorite frothy drinks ever.
But, if I was lucky, I could persuade my pals to exit the mall and head into the summer heat and to my VERY favorite downtown fine dining spot: Blimpies.
I’ve always had a thing for sandwiches and in my eyes Blimpie sandwiches have always held the key: the ultimate system in ingredient layering. It didn’t hurt that I could dictate what and how much of each ingredient I craved to the paper-hatted sandwich maker behind the glass sneeze guard. It gave me authority and a lesson for my future sandwich building skills.
This past school year I became notorious with a new generation of sandwich snobs, my daughter’s 6th grade friends. Every morning I took pride in building sandwiches that would take their breath away and put my Smudge first in line for lunch time food-trade demands.
School may be out for summer but with picnics and ingredients at their seasonal height, so it’s high time to share my tips on how to build a better sandwich starting with…
Build a Family of Flavors
Just like last night’s party that friends are still talking about the next day, the best sandwich comes from a variety of characters and a few surprises nobody expected. Mix up the textures of your ingredients and add a tart burst or spicy bite with fresh ingredients that add a crunch.
Use a flavored bread (asiago, roasted garlic, 12-grain sprouted wheat) or sub in flavored cheeses for the standard cheddar or switch up predictable turkey for a chipotle roasted shaved chicken.
Sliced banana peppers, cucumber, pickles and super crunchy sliced lettuces offset the creamy cheeses and avocado for a sandwich with bite. Give your sandwich the punch and pizzazz to make it unique.
Ideas for ingredient upgrades:
Top sliced chicken with a seasonal slaw, fresh veggies and sprouts drizzled with rice wine vinegar
Create a classic Italian sub theme by adding a few slices of salami, olives, pesto and banana peppers
Roast thinly sliced veggies and sandwich between herbed cream cheese
Add cranberry sauce, avocado and bacon to sliced turkey
Roast beef, horseradish and pickled onion with a load of crunchy lettuce
Tuna salad mixed with greek yogurt, arugula, capers, sun dried tomatoes and olives and topped with arugula
Make a Creamy Shield
Nobody enjoys a dry sandwich. A slathering of your favorite spread on the top and bottom slices of bread not only act as a flavoring, but also as a moisture barrier. Sure you can use mayo, Miracle Whip and mustards, but here is where you can also get adventurous.
Pestos, herbed or spicy aoilis, hummus, flavored cream cheese and even good old butter will help keep your sandwich stay sog-free while adding flavor to your sand.
Layers are for Lovers
How you stack your fillings is key to taking a good sandwich to great. A systematically layered sandwich will hold better, stack higher and last longer and shouldn’t be as complicated as a game of Jenga. One of the challenges with using thinly sliced meat and cheeses is how to create a sandwich with heft and height?
The key is layering thinly sliced meat in folds or ribbons rather than simply laying it flat on the bread.
As you layer upward with the next layer of veggie ingredients, the sandwich fills in, making the meat an cheese the base for the fresh fillings to top. Avoid layering slippery ingredients of similar shape (tomatoes and pickles) on top of one another or you could have a slippery slide-off (see tip #5.) Instead, divide these ingredients by shredded lettuce or mashed avocados.
My favorite layering strategy is in this order:
Meat or protein spread
Shredded lettuce, arugula or spinach to hold in the tidbits
Another layer of sliced veggie
Bread with mayo/spread/mustard to top
Marry Your Ingredients
When choosing your sets of layers, pick flavors that go well together and stack those next to each other. I don’t put mustard on my tomatoes but instead top it with cheese. My tomatoes get a pinch of salt and pepper instead of my meat or bread. And when I’m going true Blimpie style, a drizzle of red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of Italian spices punches up my shredded iceberg lettuce.
Avoid the Slimy Slide-Off
Have you ever bitten into a sandwich only to drag a stretch of too-thickly sliced turkey breast or glob of tomato straight onto your chin, or worse, that first-time never-worn shirt? That’s why thin is in. A successful sandwich uses meats, cheeses and fresh veggies that are thinly sliced, or even shaved for maximum ease.
These tips should help you make your sandwich Instagram-worthy as well as taste delicious. Create memorable photos with text for all of your social channels like I have with Adobe Spark.
This post is sponsored by Adobe. As always, thank you for reading and for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. All opinions are always my own.
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