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How To Build a Better Sandwich : The Snack That Stayed for Dinner

July 05, 1991

You've heard the story. Lord John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich, was so busy playing cards that he couldn't be bothered to get up from the table to eat. So one of his servants put meat between two slices of bread--and the sandwich was born.

In reality the earl only gave his name to something that had been around for thousands of years. People have been eating sandwiches, in one form or another, since the discovery of fire. There is no nation that doesn't eat them.

But America adopted the sandwich with special fervor. In other lands, a sandwich is a sometime thing, but in America the sandwich is an institution that virtually defines lunch. As we quickly discovered, sandwiches are the original finger food--convenient for kids, terrific for travel, easy on the budget. Made with the right ingredients, they provide the perfectly balanced meal.

But sandwiches are changing. Leaving lunch behind, they are moving out of the house and up from the deli; suddenly they are being found in all the best restaurants. Consider, for example, the following.

From Tony Di Lembo, chef/co-owner, Indigo Restaurant :


2 (5-ounce) boneless lamb loin filets

Salt, pepper

Herb Marinade

1 sweet red pepper

3 to 4 ounces imported feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

4 large slices rosemary bread or 2 French rolls, split

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 pound assorted baby lettuces

Balsamic vinaigrette

Place lamb filets flat on board and butterfly with sharp knife. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Rub with Herb Marinade on both sides. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Roast red pepper directly over open flame or under broiler until skin is charred black. Place in plastic bag and allow to steam 5 minutes. Cut pepper in half, remove seeds and peel off charred skin. Slice pepper in long strips and place in small bowl. Add feta cheese, olive oil and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss well and set aside.

Preheat grill to hottest temperature and quickly char lamb filets. When almost done, lightly toast 1 side of bread slice on grill. Remove lamb and bread and place on plate.

Combine red onion slices and lettuce. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette to taste and toss lightly. Place grilled lamb on untoasted side of bread slices and arrange red pepper and feta mixture on top. Pile over some lettuce and cover with remaining bread slices. Slice in half and serve with remaining lettuce. Makes 2 servings.

Herb Marinade

4 cloves garlic, pressed

Leaves of 1 (5-inch) sprig rosemary, finely minced

1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, removed from stems

3 tablespoons olive oil

Mix together garlic, rosemary, thyme and olive oil.


2-3 large eggplants

1 tablespoon Italian parsley

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

Lemon juice

1/2 head garlic, roasted

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sesame paste

4 onion bread squares, preferably La Brea Bakery, split

8 to 12 ounces pecorino or fontina cheese, sliced

1 Maui onion, sliced

2 cups bitter greens (such as arugula)

Salt, pepper

Roast eggplants under broiler or on open flame until blackened. When cool enough to handle, split eggplants and scoop meat from skin. Puree eggplants with parsley, thyme, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, roasted garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil and sesame paste.

Spread eggplant mixture over onion bread bottom. Top with cheese and onion slices. Mix greens with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Add dressed greens to filling. Close sandwich with bread top. Makes 4 sandwiches.

Note: To make sesame paste, roast 1 tablespoon sesame seeds in dry skillet until golden brown, then puree. Sesame paste (tahini) can be purchased at most supermarkets or Middle Eastern grocery stores. To roast garlic, place garlic half, cut side up, on baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.


2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup milk

40 medium Gulf oysters

Spiced Flour

Canola oil for deep frying

4 submarine sandwich rolls (not sourdough), sliced lengthwise and toasted

Garlic Mayonnaise

Lettuce leaves

Thin tomato slices

1/2 lemon, sliced paper-thin, optional

Thoroughly mix beaten eggs and milk. Dip oysters in egg-milk wash, then in Spiced Flour until well coated.

Heat oil to 380 degrees. Fry oysters until pieces float. Drain on paper towels.

Place fried oysters in sandwich rolls. Spread with Garlic Mayonnaise and top with lettuce, tomato and lemon slices. Makes 4 sandwiches.

Spiced Flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Combine cornmeal, flour, paprika, white pepper, salt, thyme and cayenne.

Garlic Mayonnaise

1 cup mayonnaise

3/4 teaspoon crushed garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped parsley

Dash lemon juice

Combine mayonnaise with garlic, parsley and lemon juice. Mix well.


2 small sweet red peppers

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