Sandwiches have a bad reputation of being a tad too simple to serve. Perhaps because most associate a sandwich with the childish jam + jelly or cheese + chutney for a 7-year old’s lunch box. No doubt, these items are considered the best comforts in the world – but to serve it up on a porcelain plate to guests and feel like adulting? Perhaps not.
Here, we are exploring the versatile world of open toasts or sandwiches – a way of dressing up the humble sandwich to a fit enough condition to serve at a posh do without an ounce of shame. And let’s face it, anything with bread is always a hit. You can call them crostini, tartine, open toast, or open sandwich… whatever you’re in the mood for.
Also, who says we need to entertain guests for open toasts? I personally love open toasts on a regular basis as it’s all the pleasure, with one less slice of bread guilt. This also means, that these are lighter than a two-bread sandwich, and you can eat more slices, with more filling! A pretty sweet deal for a good eater like me.
An open toast can be made any kind of ‘vehicle’, as I call it. I borrow this term from the cheese board where the vehicle is referred to the crackers, lavash or anything that is used to eat the cheeses with. For me, this term works for the open sandwich, as really the bread part becomes a very small part of the dish.
The vehicle options you can work with are plenty:
Regular sliced bread cut into 4 triangles
Focaccia bread cut lengthwise
Rice cakes – for gluten free option!
And many more…
These vehicles tend to not have a distinct flavour themselves, which allows us to really experiment with fun toppings.
To start an open toast or sandwich, I recommend using a layer of spread that helps fasten the remaining toppings to the vehicle, enhance the topping flavours and unite the dish. This can be as simple as butter or olive oil, to cream cheese, ricotta, mascarpone, or a relish or condiment like jam, or Nutella even – but this list goes on.
What goes on top? Anything and everything you have in your fridge! It can be raw uncooked vegetables or fruits, it can be grilled or sautéed veggies, it can be slow roasted or flash fried… depends on your time, ease and most often than not, how hungry you are!
Of course, there are innumerable options to up the ante, but as a home cook, I’d like to be realistic and not propose a drizzle of 48-hour infused oil with a bit of foam and all that jazz… pair unique complementing flavours together for fancy do – such as a sweet relish with a spicy topping or pungent cheese, or go basic, but classic, like a spread of hummus with grilled vegetables on top!
QUICK DESSERT TIP: You can also serve an open toast up as dessert: grilled toasted bread slice with a sinful chocolate spread, followed by a sweet jam and topped with caramelized bananas and nuts!
Using leftovers to create an open sandwich:
Using leftovers is my forte! Take one thing, mix with another, create a whole new thing!
Toss leftover salad dressing with vegetables in a pan on high heat to infuse flavour and add to the crostini. Mix that last bit of relish or jam with a cream cheese to spread on top of the bread for a sweet and savoury flavour profile to pair with grilled fruits. Over ripped fruits such as apples, pear, banana, peaches, plums etc. can be cooked in a bit of butter to top grilled bread slices. For a sweeter temptation, add a spread of Nutella or chocolate spread and you’re pretty much sorted for dessert.
Like I said, the options are aplenty, you’ve just got to get creative.
Here are a few recipes that may interest you: