Summertime Classics: Open-Faced Sandwiches

 

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Left to right: tomato with herb aoli, avocado and red onion with parsley and sunflower seeds, pickled beets with red bean dip and blue cheese

 

It is finally beautiful enough to dine al fresco, and for lunches and afternoon snacks, few things hit the spot like a delicious sandwich on your favourite bread. When preparing take-away lunches or picnics, the traditional closed sandwich packs better, but when dining at home -on the patio or in the backyard- open-faced sandwiches are where it’s at.

 

avocado, tomato and alfalfa sprouts

avocado, tomato and alfalfa sprouts

 

There’s something about an open-faced sandwich that seems to say, “Here I am, I have nothing to hide, gaze upon my beauty. Now eat me.” Typical closed sandwiches are often slightly flattened, for ease of packing or handling, their ingredients hidden under cover of bread. But the open-faced variety has eye-catching appeal, and can be piled high with colour and texture.

When it comes to ingredients, let the season do the talking. Sure, some sandwiches are great year round, and tuna melts are a cold weather open-faced classic, but when spring and summer are offering you such a fresh and beautiful bounty, why not show it off? A sandwich of avocado on toast with fresh sliced tomatoes and piled high with sprouts is lovely to look at and super healthy too, and when local tomatoes are ripe they’re pretty hard to beat. And speaking of beets, how about sliced pickled beets on a layer of red bean dip, garnished with crumbled blue cheese? The combination of nutty, creamy bean dip, the slightly sweet and sour tang of pickled beet and the bold pungent cheese, all on crunchy toast makes for some meaningful prandial pleasure.

When making an open faced sandwich, it’s a good idea to start by spreading your bread –or toast- with a good fresh aioli or a delicious and healthy dip that you can spread like hummus. Hummus gets all the glory when it comes to bean dips, but you can just as easily whip up your own bean puré from kidney beans and use it as a base spread that will help other ingredients stay put. Mayonnaise is a typical go-to spread, but you can also make your own aoili and use that instead, just incorporate some fresh herbs like chives, dill, basil and or parsley from your garden to your mayonnaise recipe.  Labneh  is also a great spread for sandwiches and can be used instead of mayo or goat cheese.

 

Labneh with toasted walnuts and honey

Labneh with toasted walnuts and honey

To toast or not to toast? For ease of handling, it may be advantageous to toast your bread before you build your sandwich; you can pick up the whole thing with one hand and it won’t flop. For the wee ones, it’s not too difficult to literally top the classic peanut butter and sliced banana. Why not add some fresh berries, like raspberries or strawberries instead of sweet, sticky jam? Or maybe some sliced toasted coconut to enhance the tropical vibe from the banana. Or serve a little variety on the plate and let your little munchkin build their own? This is not a bad idea for the grownups too, maybe set out a platter of breads, spreads and toppings and let your guests have at it? When it comes to easy lunches that capture the flavours of the summer season, the open-faced sandwich may be your best bet.

 

peanut butter and banana with toasted coconut, raspberries and clementine

peanut butter and banana with toasted coconut, raspberries and clementine

 

 

 

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