Return of the Humble Sandwich

The combination of the heat from late August’s “Dog Days of Summer” and the busyness of Back to School can cause the humble sandwich to find its way to a starring role on the supper table. The addition of some delicious and healthy ingredients (some straight from the garden, if you have them!) can turn the ordinary mixture of bread, condiment, and protein into a quick and healthy balanced meal. Give these tasty recipes a try on your supper table:

Tuna and White Bean Panini

1 6-ounce can reduced salt chunk light tuna, drained
½ of a 15-ounce can (about 3/4 cup) cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained, and lightly mashed
3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 clove garlic, minced
8 1/2-inch-thick slices country Italian bread or whole wheat bread
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup lightly packed large fresh basil leaves
2 ounces mozzarella, Havarti, or provolone cheese, very thinly sliced
Nonstick cooking spray
In a medium bowl, stir together tuna, cannellini beans, red onion, mayonnaise, and garlic. Set aside.

Preheat an electric sandwich press, a covered indoor grill, a grill pan, or a skillet. To assemble sandwiches, spread half of the bread slices with the tuna mixture. Top tuna mixture with tomato slices, basil leaves, and cheese. Top with remaining bread slices. Coat outside of each sandwich with nonstick cooking spray.

Place sandwiches (half at a time, if necessary) in the sandwich press or indoor grill; cover and and cook about 6 minutes or until cheese melts and bread is toasted. If using a grill pan or skillet, place sandwiches on grill pan. Weigh sandwiches down with a heavy skillet or grill press and grill about 2 minutes or until bread is toasted. Turn sandwiches over, press, and grill about 2 minutes more or until remaining sides of bread are toasted.

Quick Quesadilla Pockets

Nonstick cooking spray
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large red sweet pepper, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 ½ cups loose-pack frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 15 1/2-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese blend (6 ounces)
½ cup salsa
6 8-inch flour tortillas
1 2 1/4-ounce can sliced pitted ripe olives (optional)
½ cup light dairy sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Coat a very large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sweet pepper, onion powder, and chili powder and cook about 5 minutes or until pepper is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in corn, beans, 1 cup of the cheese, and the salsa. Cook and stir until the mixture is heated through and cheese is melted.

To assemble the quesadillas, divide bean mixture among tortillas, spreading evenly over half of each tortilla. Fold over, pressing down gently. Place on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle quesadillas with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and, if desired, olives.

Bake about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and tortillas are golden brown and crisp. Cut each quesadilla into quarters. If desired, top quesadillas with sour cream.

Bacon, Spinach, and Tomato Salsa Tortillas

2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh jalapeno pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
8 slices bacon or reduced-sodium turkey bacon
¼ cup light mayonnaise or salad dressing
4 10-inch vegetable-flavor flour tortillas or flour tortillas
2 cups fresh baby spinach

For quick tomato salsa: In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper. Stir in lime juice and kosher salt. Set aside.

Cook bacon according to package directions. Drain well on paper towels; cut bacon into large pieces.
To assemble sandwiches, spread mayonnaise over tortillas; top with spinach. Using a slotted spoon, spoon tomato salsa over spinach. Top with bacon. Roll up tortillas to enclose filling. Cut each tortilla in half.

Eating healthy is easy and important. Use these ideas to build your favorite combinations and let the humble sandwich become the star of your family’s late summer suppers!

About Dori Fritzinger

I live and work with my multi-generational family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We have a farm of cows and calves, wool sheep, dairy goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, honey bees, a horse and a donkey. We have a goat's milk soap and bath products line available on our farm web site. I enjoy reading, quilting and doing embroidery.