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03.27.2006

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sandwich it ihow to build a better sandwich
by Yee-Fan Sun 
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continued from page 1

Don't think you have to limit yourself to standard bread either. Tortillas, lavash bread, pita bread and bagels all make excellent alternatives to your typical loaf. I always keep a bag of tortillas in the freezer; because they're so thin, they thaw even faster than bread slices. Plus, they make for mighty tasty wrap-style sandwiches, which not only provide a pleasant break from the same-old same-old, but are easy to eat with one hand (perfect for those of us who often find themselves multi-tasking lunch and work).

the meat (or veggie) of the matter
Of course, once you've picked out your bread, you'll need to decide what to put in your sandwich. You want something packed with flavor, something with plenty of substance. The usual suspects, of course, are deli meat, cheese or some combination of the two. While ham and turkey are certainly tasty, a good deli counter will present you with many other options as well. Give the roast beef or pastrami a try every once in awhile; splurge on some good salami or mortadella for a change of pace. With cheese as well, don't just buy the same old boring American or cheddar or Swiss week after week. Most deli counters are happy to give you a taste before you buy; get adventurous instead of just sticking with your reliable standards. And if the deli counter options aren't doing it for you, mosey on over to the specialty cheese aisle. Soft cheeses like brie, goat's cheese and blue cheese might not come in perfect, sandwich-ready slices, but they make for mighty tasty gourmet sandwiches. And trust me: it's not that much more effort to use a paring knife and cut the slices yourself.

Tired of cold cuts? Leftover roast chicken makes a delicious sandwich filling; use it the same way you use regular deli meat, or shred it, toss with chopped apples and mayonnaise and enjoy a tasty chicken salad. Don't have any chicken handy? Canned tuna is your friend. Meanwhile, for the vegetarians out there, one of my favorite sandwich-friendly salads is a green bean pate. Readymade falafels, bean dip/puree, and roasted vegetables (roast them up on a Sunday and they'll be ready to be popped into your sandwich come the workweek) also make delectable vegetarian-friendly fillings.

all the fixin's
Sure, you could just slap on a few slices of ham and some cheese and call it a sandwich, but let's face it: that kind of sandwich only tasted good when you were 8, and Mom was making your lunches, and you didn't know that sandwiches could be any other way but bland. Meats and cheeses will fill you up, but for a really satisfying sandwich, you'll want to add in some other ingredients too -- ones that'll add some crispness and crunch, juiciness and flavor, some contrast and texture.

Even just adding a few bits of lettuce will up the goodness of your sandwich substantially. Romaine keeps really well and has good flavor and texture; as I almost always have some sort of ready-prepped greens mix sitting in the fridge for spontaneous salads, I'll also often throw down a handful of whatever salad mix happens to be on hand (baby lettuce, spinach, arugula, whatever). But don't just stop with the greens. Other veggies also make excellent additions; try thinly sliced cucumber or red onion, a mountain of sprouts, a sliced ripe tomato or smattering of sundried tomatoes, a layer of sliced avocado (drizzle or toss the avocado with lime or lemon to it from getting too brown and gross while it sits). For wrap-style sandwiches, meanwhile, I like to pair the filling with shredded lettuce (shredding creates more volume than laying out flat leaves) and some crisp julienned (skinny matchstick-cut) veggies -- carrots, cucumbers and bell peppers are all good.

For an extra-special touch, try topping off your concoction with a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs. Cilantro, basil and tarragon can all work nicely with chicken, turkey, and cheese sandwiches; chives, scallions and flat-leaf parsley, meanwhile, will spruce up just about any filling.

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