Sometimes, all there is to eat is a sandwich. Just a nice, big, something-or-other smashed between two slices of the chunkiest bread:
Of course, no one wants to ever think that their perfect sandwich child has anything wrong with it, but on occasion, even The Sandwich doesn’t hit the spot. That’s when we can turn to...spice blends. It can change the whole game by making an old stand-by taste different, but just as divinely delicious, simply by changing the flavor rules. The best part? We can do this with ANY sandwich combination (although I’ve never tried it with the good ‘ol PB&J...hmmm!). Here are some suggestions, modeled after the spices found in a variety of international cuisines:
1. Indian. Known for being one of the most flavorful cuisines on the planet, Indian provides quite the spice playground. Most of us think of cumin and turmeric, but mustard seed, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, garlic, coriander, saffron, chili peppers and celery seed are also widely used. A classic Indian blend could be cumin, turmeric, garlic powder, mustard seed (I like to grind mine with a mortar and pestle) and a bit of cinnamon. For a splurge, add a bit of saffron. Just a little of each does the trick, and - if your sandwich recipe calls for sautéing - to get the most flavor, heat the spices in the oil before adding food.
2. Mexican. In New York City, we have quite the array of Mexican restaurants to choose from that it we would have to try to tire of eating Mexican food. For one thing, it’s highly adaptable for all diets, from meat-lovers to vegans! To recreate the seasonings at home with our own sandwiches, a mix of onion powder, garlic powder, mustard, red pepper, paprika, parsley and oregano does the trick.
3. Cajun. Oh, the mix of savory with a faint bit of sweet in Cajun cuisines could inspire our very own New Orleans-inspired second line in the kitchen (minus the brass band – we wouldn’t want to upset the neighbors!). In a little bit of oil, blend some thyme, sage, basil, red pepper flakes, ground peppercorns, parsley, celery salt (just a dash), ground mustard seed, chili powder, cayenne, nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
4. Thai. Almost nothing beats a sweet, sticky and slightly peppery Pad Thai. Or Drunken Noodles, if heat is more your thing. For this one, try using peanut oil as the base oil (if allergies prevent the use of peanut oil, a standard canola oil will do just fine!) and add lemongrass, coriander, ground ginger, lemon zest, ground peppercorns, garlic powder, a pinch of celery salt, ground mustard seed, cumin, chili powder, dill weed, and while many use brown sugar, coconut flakes make a nice substitution.
5. Moroccan. Most of us cannot hop on a plane and go to Tangiers, but we can imagine we're there by using the typical spices found in many Moroccan kitchens. Pinches of saffron, ginger, cumin, pepper, nutmeg, turmeric and cinnamon, mixed in our vegetable oil and added to our fave sandwich fixin's yields yet another sublime rendition.
An added bonus to keep in mind when culinary inspiration is eluding us: any of these combinations would work great for rubbing into some slabs of tofu, portobello mushroom caps, “cauliflower steaks,” and baking in the oven, allowing for the flavors to really infuse it and create a scrumptious base. Plus, the kitchen is going to smell amazing.
Hayley Lutz, Red Rabbit Communications & Accounts Coordinator