It’s often said that cereal can be eaten any time of the day, depending on who you speak to, but surely this is also true of sandwiches and toast? Name a more enduring firm favourite around the world than the humble sandwich. We can’t.
With the festive period around the corner (how has that happened?) it’s time to embrace the snacking season and that means easy, delicious meals and an increased frequency of them. Whether it’s a case of winding down the work year and sprucing up your work from home lunches or rustling up an easy but elegant beach picnic, sandwiches and fancy toasts have so much to offer.
Embracing the open-faced sandwich trend
- Essential pantry staples to build stellar sandwiches
- Playing with your food is encouraged
- Warm breakfast sandwich
- A trio of pan con tomat
- Stilton, culatello & fig on toasted ciabatta
- Grilled fennel, coppa & cabrito
- Cheese & tomato with a difference
Essential pantry staples to build stellar open-faced sandwiches
Where else to start but with the base of a sandwich? An open-faced sandwich is best enjoyed using sourdough or ciabatta but even miniature versions of these can be replicated on crackers or melba toast. Camembert on melba with red onion and cabbage relish is a sensational little starter and that’s just one example off the top of our heads. Arm yourself with the picnic pro hamper or our antipasti essentials and go from there. And don’t forget the butter.
Playing with your food is encouraged
With open-faced sandwiches, the options are limitless. Obviously, we won’t go into too much mathematical detail and say that with four separate sandwich toppings there’s the possibility of creating 24 totally unique sandwiches, but you get the gist. Some people swear by butter with peanut butter while others don’t see why they are ever combined. Regular cheddar cheese can go with marmite, it can go with apple and it can even find a home alongside peanut butter, depending on your palate of course.
When you take the quality level of the sandwich ingredients up a notch, the rules of the game stay pretty much the same. Open-faced sandwiches look cool and they’re therefore incredibly photogenic and Instagrammable, but the most exciting element of the whole process is the blank canvas to start it all. Bread, butter, olive oil and a world of possibilities await.
Bruschetta, open-faced sandwiches and fancy toast are all beautifully simple and versatile meal options and they can be rustic or sophisticated depending on your mood and the occasion. It’s also an easy meal to scale if you have guests, with the option of canapes and multiple bruschettas going into the oven at once.
Here are a few we’ve made recently.
Warm breakfast sandwich kickstarter
Fried egg, chorizo quickly pan-fried in butter, chilli oil and manchego cheese on toasted sourdough is a sensational way to start most days. And if you happen to eat your first meal at 1 pm, it still counts as breakfast.
A trio of pan con tomat
This Spanish favourite is so simple that it should be illegal. Mediterranean cuisine hinges itself on simplicity, vibrancy and freshness of flavour, and tomatoes fall neatly into all of those categories. Pan con tomat, literally translated to “bread with tomato” introduces limitless scope and flavour profiles and combinations with which to experiment. Fresh, cooked, slow-roasted or sundried, tomatoes are a beautiful thing and the lifeblood of Mediterranean meals for good reason.
The ripeness and quality of the tomatoes that you use will dictate how good the final product tastes, so go and hunt for the best you can find. Cut relatively chunky slices of sourdough/white bread and liberally rub them with raw garlic clove halves. Obviously, discretion is sometimes the better part of valour, but for garlic connoisseurs, the limit simply does not exist. Top the garlicky bread with grated raw tomato and embellish with your favourite things. Go wild with flavours as specific as anchovy, capers and the like, and serve your sandwich either fresh or toasted according to preference. Below is a trio of bruschetta that we made for lunch:
Stilton, culatello & fig on toasted ciabatta
You know this combination is good because it’s easy to envisage on a pizza. A sandwich is quicker, easier and more summer-friendly though and it doesn’t skimp on any of the taste. We put this exact combination together in Part II of our Rustic Canape Crash Course and it’s easily duplicated as an open-faced sandwich on ciabatta toast. Garnish with parsley and edible pansies for extra pizazz.
Grilled fennel, coppa & cabrito
Fennel is a majestic ingredient, especially in the summer months, and it’s incredibly versatile too. It can be the hero of a salad, the vital support act for fish or chicken dishes and a moreish, beautifully-textured sandwich topping too. Grilled chunky fennel with the bold, salty robustness of coppa and the smooth creaminess of cabrito goat cheese is a trifecta of elegant excellence.
Cheese & tomato with a difference
It’s often the case that the simplest things in life are the best. Just look at our Pan con tomat ideas above for a reminder. Cheese & tomato is a combination that has merits almost nobody would deny, and there’s an easy way to transform a humble cheese & tomato sandwich into a memorable picnic food or a lunch option to go back for again and again. There’s no secret, just stock up on high-quality slow-roasted tomato and creamy award-winning goat cheese and generously lavish them on your favourite crusty bread. Is there anything easier than that? Add some charcuterie if you crave a deliciously delicate and salty supplement.
Back in the 1700s, it’s unlikely that John Montagu (1718-92), the 4th Earl of Sandwich, would have predicted that his invention would still be going strong today. Sol’s range is literally geared towards experimentation and play, and sandwiches are a great arena for both. What’s your favourite sandwich combination at the moment?