You’ve refreshed your spring wardrobe and (hopefully) done a little spring cleaning, but what have you done to spruce up your spring-sandwich repertoire? If you’re over goopy egg salad — like we are — try mastering one of these new, easy-but-elegant recipes, including the ultimate diet-friendly Croque Madame. It’s primetime for some low-effort, high-reward cooking! Pack these sandwiches to go or eat ‘em at home. It’s entirely up to you.
Skinnier Croque Madame
1 tbsp, plus 2 tsps extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat (1%) milk
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup grated Gruyère cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 slices thick-cut, whole-grain bread, toasted
4 tbsps dijon mustard
1/2 pound sliced Black Forest ham
4 large eggs
2 cups watercress leaves, washed and dried
Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring until bubbling and smooth, about three minutes. Whisk in the milk, then bring to a simmer and cook, whisking frequently, until thickened, about five minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the parmesan and Gruyère until melted. Season with nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the broiler. Spread one tablespoon mustard on one side of each bread slice and arrange, mustard-side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Divide ham among the four slices. Top each with 1/3 cup cheese sauce and broil until golden and bubbly, one to two minutes. Transfer to lower oven rack to keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining two teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Crack eggs into small cups, then slide into the skillet and cook until whites begin to set. Cover and cook until whites are firm, about two more minutes. (If your skillet is too small, feel free to cook eggs one or two at a time instead.)
Top each sandwich with 1/2 cup watercress leaves and one fried egg.
The wedge salad can play more than just a supporting role at mealtime — trust us! We took the killer combo of cold iceberg lettuce, crisp bacon, and super-savory blue cheese dressing and nuzzled it between two slices of bread, turning the classic side into main-dish perfection.
Wedge Salad Sandwich
12 strips thick-cut bacon
1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 tsps hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 hoagie rolls, split
1 tomato, sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
Put the bacon in a skillet (cast-iron if you have it) and cook on medium heat, flipping once, until crisp, about six minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.
Mix the mayonnaise, blue cheese, lemon juice, hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
Spread blue-cheese dressing inside each hoagie roll, top and bottom. Divide the tomato, red onion, bacon, and iceberg lettuce slices between the rolls.
Think of this as the kitchen sink cookie of the spring sandwich world. Our apple-cider vinegar brine transforms a hodgepodge of vegetables into a tangy, vitamin-packed sandwich filling — feel free to swap in or add any other veggies you have, it’s a great way to use up odds and ends from the farmers’ market last week.
Pickled Veggie Focaccia Sandwich
2 cups apple-cider vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
1 (15-ounce) can sliced beets, drained and patted dry
1 bunch radishes, trimmed and quartered
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
10 stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1/2 bunch)
4 pieces focaccia bread
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
4 hard-cooked eggs, quartered
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 tsps good-quality balsamic vinegar
Bring the cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and bay leaves to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
Put the beets in a small nonreactive bowl (glass works well). Pour 1/4 cup warm brine over the beets and toss to combine. Add the radishes, cauliflower, and asparagus to the saucepan with the remaining brine; set both the small bowl and saucepan aside until the brine is cool and the veggies are crisp-tender, about 30 minutes. Store separately in the brine in the refrigerator up to one week. If using immediately, drain veggies before adding them to the sandwich.
Split focaccia pieces in half and spread two tablespoons ricotta cheese inside of each. Divide the beets, radishes, cauliflower, asparagus, and hard-cooked eggs among the focaccia. Drizzle the inside of each sandwich with one tablespoon olive oil and one teaspoon balsamic vinegar.
NOTE: For a quick variation, swap the hard-cooked eggs with sliced salami.
Not a great baker? No one has to know. Make this super-simple sandwich your “signature dessert” — it’s as easy as making toast. Since there’s not much to it, spring for good-quality chocolate and olive oil (it’ll make a big difference).
Chocolate-Olive Baguette With Sea Salt
1 baguette, cut into 4 pieces
2 tsps extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
Maldon sea salt, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the baguette pieces in half; brush the insides with olive oil and arrange, cut-side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Toast until golden and crisp, about five minutes.
Meanwhile, put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring, until melted.
Spread melted chocolate on the bottom halves of the baguette. Drizzle each with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt.
Photo: Courtesy of Erin Phraner
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