Packing for a picnic? Relaxing at the beach? Or just prepping a sandwich for work or school? It’s a tasty fact that a lot of summer activities and life in general require an advance plan for what you’re going to eat, and sandwiches always seem to be on the menu—they’re simple, they’re portable, and they’re perfect for picky and adventurous eaters alike. But there’s a few ways to ensure that your sandwich tastes even better than a run-of-the-mill deli turkey version.
Think of the traditional banh mi, the French pan bagnat, or the New Orleans muffaletta—all sandwiches that use pungent flavors and a variety of ingredients to make something that’s way more than the sum of its parts. Take tips from these classic sandwiches for a meal that’s ready when you are.
How to build a better sandwich
The key to keeping your sandwich together is to use bread that’s crusty on the outside but soft on the inside, like a baguette or hard Portuguese roll. Soft burger buns and brioche rolls will fall apart by the time you’re ready to eat the sandwich, but a more substantial bread holds up.
While mayonnaise is fine for everyday sandwiches, make-ahead sandwiches need a little more oomph. Strongly flavored tapenade, pesto, aioli, or vinaigrettes soak into the bread to keep the sandwich moist and distribute deliciousness. Spread it generously on both sides of the cut bread.
The meat of the matter:
Whether you’re riffing off a muffaletta or making a sandwich of your own invention, the meat (and cheese) matters. The layers will be compressed as the sandwich sits in the fridge, so don’t skimp on the slices. Layer meat and cheese over the spread, picking two or three different types like mortadella, sopressata, sliced prosciutto, flaked oil-packed tuna, or sliced roast pork to get a variety of tastes.
Don’t forget the crunch:
To add another layer of flavor and texture to the sandwich, pick a favorite pickle or two. Dill slices, giardiniera (Italian pickle relish), pickled green beans, beets or other vegetables all bring a snappy, refreshing zing to every bite of the sandwich. Layer them between the meats and cheeses to keep their brine from making the sandwich too soft.
Wrap it up:
To seal in all the flavor and keep the sandwich together, wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic wrap before refrigerating. The bread will soften slightly overnight, but the crusty exterior will keep everything contained when you’re ready to unwrap and eat.