Luckily, help is on the way in the form of a new cookbook written by Birmingham, Ala., recipe developer, food educator and nutritionist Alison Lewis. Her book is titled 400 Best Sandwich Recipes and runs the gamut of foods that you can pack in a lunchbox and eat with your hands. Her definition of a "sandwich" includes wraps, burgers, panini and even desserts. She also offers readers the recipes for 50 different condiments to help dress up your sandwich, such aiolis, chimichurri, pestos, chutneys and several varieties of mayonnaise and relishes.
The recipes emphasize healthy ingredients and are written very simply and clearly. Each dish also includes a personal tip from Alison that explains where she came up with the idea or a helpful hint to assist in the preparation. Most of the ingredients are either already in your larder or easily sourced at your local supermarket, although some of the more obscure Indian, Middle Eastern or Thai sandwiches might require a trip to a specialty market.
But don't think that all the recipes are tricked-out or exotic. In fact, there are 90 grilled cheese recipes in this book. (Sounds like a good idea for a food truck, eh?) This really is the go-to book on portable food, and you'll be able to pack years' worth of school lunches for your family without ever repeating yourself.
Alison was gracious enough to share one of her favorite lunch box specials with Bites readers. Her version of Lunch Box Sushi arose from her family's frequent requests for sushi that could survive a trip on a school bus. It looks delicious and fairly simple to assemble, and I'm sure some kids would like to join in on the assembly process.
Lunch Box Sushi
Serves 4 to 6
1 tsp wasabi powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 cups cooked sushi short-grain rice, cooled
2 tbsp chopped green onions
1 tsp Homemade Mayonnaise or store-bought
1⁄8 tsp hot pepper flakes
6 10-inch white or whole-wheat tortillas
6 sheets nori
11⁄2 lbs peeled cooked shrimp, chopped
1 cup chopped avocado
1 cup finely chopped cucumber
1⁄3 cup soy sauce
1. In a small bowl, combine wasabi and 1 tsp water. Add 2 tbsp soy sauce and mix well.
2. In a medium bowl, combine rice, wasabi mixture, green onions, mayonnaise and hot pepper flakes.
3. Line each tortilla with nori. Arrange rice mixture equally in center of each wrap. Add shrimp, avocado and cucumber. Fold both ends over filling. Roll up and serve with soy sauce.
Variation: You can use flavored tortillas in this recipe and imitation crab instead of shrimp.
Tip: Prepare your rice the day before. I like to prepare my sushi rice with seasoned vinegar and toasted sesame seeds.
Excerpted from 400 Best Sandwich Recipes by Alison Lewis © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Coincidentally, August is National Sandwich Month and the Sandwich King guy won The Next Food Network Star earlier this week. You knew that, right? Sandwiches are hotter'n a panini press so pick up Alison's book on Amazon and start filling those brown bags with something special!
Note: Alison is also an accomplished food blogger and speaker and will be a panelist at Food Blog Forum when it comes to Nashville later this fall. Bring along a copy of 400 Sandwiches and I'm sure she'd be happy to sign it for you.