How to Build the Perfect Sandwich With Chef Tom Colicchio
andwiches are a mealtime staple: easy to put together, satisfying and downright delicious. With an endless amount of possible tasty combinations, sandwiches allow for culinary creativity, while satisfying hunger any time of day. Chef Tom Colicchio, a seasoned food judge and sandwich expert, knows a thing or two about creating a delicious, nutritious sandwich from the bread to the fillings. In fact, Tom’s expertise and sandwich recipes are helping inspire Americans across the country to submit their favorite recipes into this year’s America’s Better Sandwich® Contest hosted by Oroweat® Bread.
Grilled White Cheddar with Pears, Walnut Pesto & Cranberry Mustard
Ingredients (4 servings) Chef Tom Colicchio
Ingredients for Sandwich
- 8 slices Arnold®, Brownberry®, Oroweat® Country Buttermilk bread
- 8 slices white cheddar cheese
- 2 Bartlett pears (peeled, cored and sliced)
- Walnut pesto (recipe below)
- Cranberry mustard (recipe below)
- Extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for Walnut Pesto
- 2 cups walnuts
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
Chef Tom Colicchio
Ingredients for Cranberry Mustard
- 1 cup grain mustard
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 300° F.
- Spread the walnuts on a sheet pan and toast in the oven until fragrant (approximately 5-10 minutes). Transfer the walnuts to a food processor and roughly chop. Slowly add the oil and continue to process until you have a spreadable (but not too smooth) pesto; the walnuts release their own oils so be patient while adding oil. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate for up to one week. Chef Tom Colicchio
Plump cranberries by soaking in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain and roughly chop. Add to grain mustard, stir together and refrigerate.
- On 4 slices of Country Buttermilk bread, spread the walnut pesto. Add one slice of cheese to each, then sliced pears, then last piece of cheese. Top with cranberry mustard and second slice of bread.
- In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Place sandwiches one at a time in skillet and cook for 3-5 minutes before flipping (check for color and temperature: cheese should be melted and bread golden). If the bread is sticking, allow to cook slightly longer and it will unstick itself.
- Remove from skillet, pat dry of any excess olive oil, cut in half and serve.
Marinated Eggplant with Tomato Relish, Mozzarella & Herbs
- 4 Oroweat® Sandwich Thins®
- Multigrain Rolls
- 3 cups loosely packed herbs (basil, dill, cilantro & parsley)
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- 1 cup olive oil
- 4 jalapeños, cut into rings
- 6 limes, juiced
- 2 medium eggplants, cut into ½-inch rings
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 balls Mozzarella, sliced
- Tomato relish (recipe follows)
Tomato Relish Ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes
- 2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons pickled mustard seeds, drained
Tomato Relish Directions:
- Pour the olive oil into a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sautée until golden brown. Add the sugar and curry powder and cook for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and pour the contents into a strainer, stirring the relish to drain most of the liquid. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix in the parsley and mustard seeds, checking the seasoning and adjusting if necessary. Store refrigerated for up to 1 week.
- Chop all of the herbs and set aside.
- Plump golden raisins by soaking in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Mix the olive oil with half of the herbs, half of the jalapeños and half of the lime juice to create the marinade. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper and add to the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Remove eggplant from marinade and set marinade aside. Grill eggplant over indirect heat until it has softened and cooked through. Return the eggplant to the marinade along with the golden raisins and toss with the remaining herbs, jalapeños and lime juice. Let cool to room temperature.
- Spread tomato relish along bottom half of Sandwich Thins roll and place marinated eggplant on top. Add sliced mozzarella and top with roll lid.
Sandwich-Making Tips from Tom Colicchio
- Always use the freshest ingredients you can find; there’s no substitute for a perfectly ripe piece of produce.
- Create sandwiches that fit you and your family’s palates, not what the latest trends tell you to.
- At the same time, don’t be afraid to experiment with new things! You can always try again tomorrow.
- The architecture of the sandwich is as important as what you put in it. If it isn’t built solidly it will fall apart:
- If you’re using messier ingredients, like roasted vegetables or condiments such as dressing, try lightly toasting or searing one side of each bread slice until crisp and stack your sandwich with the toasty sides facing in. This will make your sandwich sturdier and help prevent sogginess.
- Build sandwiches from the bottom up, starting with the driest and heaviest ingredients first before adding your favorite toppings, like lettuce and tomato. Finally, spread condiments on the second slice of bread before topping the sandwich.
- Most importantly, don’t overload your sandwich to the point of ingredients falling out when you take a bite!
- If served cold, put cheese next to the bread to help reinforce the stability of the sandwich. If served hot, put cheese next to the meat so the flavors can properly play off of one another.
- Greens should be dressed prior to placement in the sandwich to ensure consistent seasoning throughout.
- Don’t overdo it with condiments; the more you mix them, the more muddled the flavor becomes. Pick one that will really accentuate the flavors you’re highlighting.