Q: Please inspire a jaded sandwich- maker who has been turning out sarmies for way too long. My family will love you. - Olive, Mossel Bay
A: As a recent empty nester, I admit that I'm actually missing the early-morning rush of getting school lunches together - although the thought does pass very quickly. Many a day my family were lucky to get a peanut-butter sandwich.
The idea of placing a filling between two slices of bread is named after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. A great gambler, he requested his food to be prepared in a way that did not interfere with his game. The clever cook presented him with a slice of meat between two slices of bread which he could easily pick up with one hand.
That said, the best and easiest way to add variety to a lunchbox is to change the carrier - the bread - and use different kinds like wholewheat, white, rye and brown and include rolls of different shapes and sizes. When there is no fresh bread, crackers fill the gap very nicely.
1. SANDWICH ON A STICK
- 10ml (2 tsp) pesto
- 15ml (1 tbsp) mayonnaise
- 1 thick slice ciabatta bread
- 1 kebab stick
- 2 cocktail tomatoes
- 2 slices of ham or beef, folded
- 2 chunks of cucumber
- 2 blocks of cheese (firm cheese like cheddar or mozzarella)
Combine the pesto and mayonnaise. Spread onto both sides of the bread and then cut the bread into big cubes.
Thread a cube of bread onto the kebab stick, then a cocktail tomato, a folded sliceof cold meat, a chunk of cucumber and a block of cheese. Add another chunk of bread and repeat the process for the remaining ingredients.
2. BREAKFAST BAGUETTE
- 1 mini baguette (French loaf) or full-sized baguette
- 10ml (2 tsp) olive oil, for frying
- 6cm chorizo sausage, sliced (or bacon)
- 1 small onion, finely sliced
- 2 extra-large eggs
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 15ml (1 tbsp) butter
- Chilli sauce (optional)
- Fresh rocket leaves
Cut the baguette lengthways, without cutting all the way through, and butter the bread.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the chorizo slices with the onion until soft and golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. Beat the eggs with a whisk and season. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan and cook the omelette until just set on one side, then flip and cook on the other side. Fold the omelette in half and place on the baguette. Top with chorizo and onion. Finish off with chilli sauce, if using, and rocket leaves.
3. GREEK SALAD PITA
- 50g feta cheese
- a few olives, pitted
- 1 firm red tomato, roughly chopped
- a chunk of cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
- 2.5ml ( tsp) dried mixed herbs
- 15ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice
- 20ml (4 tsp) olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 pita bread, split open
In a bowl, toss together the feta, olives, tomato, cucumber, onion, herbs, lemon juice and 15ml (1 tbsp) of the oil. Season. Brush the inside of the pita with the remaining oil and spoon in the salad.
4. CHEESE AND TOMATO QUESADILLAS
- 300g mature cheddar cheese, grated
- 125g cherry tomatoes, halved
- Large handful fresh coriander leaves
- Few drops of Tabasco sauce or sweet chilli sauce
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tortillas or any other soft flatbreads
Divide the cheese, tomatoes and coriander leaves between 3 tortillas. Sprinkle with Tabasco or sweet chilli sauce and season. Cover with the remaining tortillas to make sandwiches. Place under a preheated grill or in a hot griddle pan, pressing down to flatten the tortillas. Cook until crisp and cheese is melting. Cut into wedges and wrap in foil to transport. If you like, you can replace the tomatoes with cooked or smoked chicken or smoked ham, and add mayonnaise.