When we were tasked with providing lunch sandwiches for day 2 of Hicksville, I knew I’d need to step it up. I rarely eat bread and loathe most sandwiches, with the rare exception of tea sandwiches and fancy gourmet fare. Because I suffer from an acute case of the fancies, you see. The only experience I’d had with preparing this sort of thing was the time we made cucumber-goat-cheese sandwiches for our housewarming party, so this was a fun challenge.

What makes a gourmet sandwich gourmet? High quality ingredients and optimized flavor and texture combinations. In this case, there were two more stipulations to consider: 1. The sandwiches could not be made in advance 2. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian options were required. For the non-veggie version, I decided to go simple, with a  tea-sandwich-inspired —

Curried Chicken Salad with Arugula, on Fluffy White Bread

This wouldn’t have been so simple had I made the chicken salad from scratch. Fortunately, a local Gelson’s store makes a mean curried chicken! All I had to do was chop it to a salad-y texture [messy and fun], and pack it up in an air-tight container. The arugula was sealed and packed separately, as was the bread.

This is a fast and tasty solution if you’re planning a picnic and don’t have a lot of time to devote to the task of food. The arugula ads crispness and zest to the chicken salad – nothing more is needed. Ideally, I would have made these with croissants, but 20 croissants cost more than I had budgeted for the trip. Next time!

With the meaty sandwich dilemma solved, I turned my attention to —

Apple Sandwiches with Fennel, Cranberries and Caramelized Onions on Rye

This is an incredibly delicious, light, crisp sandwich that’s perfect for summertime lunches and picnics.


  • rye bread
  • Granny Smith apples
  • dried cranberries
  • 1 fennel root, thinly sliced or shaved
  • 1 pound sliced onions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons diced fresh rosemary leaves
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp citrus balsamic vinegar – you could use a mix of regular balsamic vinegar and OJ
  • Cheese: we used provolone on some, and brie on others


In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over moderate heat. Add onions with rosemary and cook until translucent and golden – roughly 10-15 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper and vinegar, then cook until vinegar evaporates. Set aside and let cool.

If you plan on preparing ingredients ahead of time as I did, you can pack up the caramelized onions, bread, cranberries and cheese, as well as sliced fennel – it keeps well for a while. There’s no pre-slicing apples, though – this has to be done right before construction and consumption.

They weren’t actually open-faced, but I was too busy eating one to get a shot of the complete thing. Mmmf.