Dress Up Your Sandwiches with Herbs

Spread the flavor with savory blends from your garden.

| August/September 2003

Recipes for the Perfect Sandwich:
 Homemade Pita Bread
• Herb-Based Mayonnaise 

Fresh herbs add zing, texture and bright appeal to that simplest of summer meals: the sandwich. On hot, busy days it’s a blessing to know I can create a sensational meal with a minimum of fuss just by stepping outside the kitchen door to pick my favorite herbs. I blend them into spreads and fillings, and use them as edible garnishes.

The basis of this bounty is the bread. I use thinly sliced whole-wheat or rye bread, thick-crusted Italian bread or homemade pita bread. Fast and easy to make (about 2 hours), the homemade pita will impress the socks off everyone. For a fancy luncheon, trim the crust from regular and whole-wheat bread and cut the sandwiches into squares or triangles.

The Spreads

I use dairy-based spreads, not only because we have a Jersey cow on hand, but because herbs blend well with cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt and yogurt cheese (yogurt drained for several hours through doubled cheesecloth). With homemade herb-based mayonnaise on hand during the summer months, I have everything I need to mix and match these ingredients, depending on the fillings and herbs I use. You can make delicious spreads in a few minutes using one of the following methods. Thin cream cheese or yogurt cheese with yogurt for the desired consistency; add yogurt to mayonnaise for the desired taste; or add cottage cheese to either of these.

The Herbs

Mince herbs fine to blend into spreads. Cut them up in small pieces or leave them in small sprigs to add to sandwiches. For garnishes, leave the herbs just as you pick them, in their whole-leaf or flower splendor.

Basils (Ocimum spp.). Two leaves of lettuce-leaf basil are broad enough to more than cover a slice of bread. The flavor is mild, but you still know it’s basil. The spicy, small-leaved bush basils and purple basils go well with egg salad. ‘Sweet Genovese’, a moderately large-leaf type, is all-purpose. Try it with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and onions on a mayonnaise-yogurt spread. The ruffled green and purple basils are gorgeous as edible garnishes.

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