Sandwiches for your picnic

Picnics are something special, something we all remember.

A picnic breaks the daily routine and takes us outdoors just ready to enjoy good weather and delicious food. Most of the times, that delicious food is a sandwich.

Classic sandwiches take creative twists for your next picnic

Even though you may have your favorite sandwiches, you're bound to get tired of them once in a while. A picnic is the perfect time to put a creative twist on some classic sandwiches that will taste refreshingly different by your design.

Create a whole new club

The club sandwich is certainly one of the all-time favorite choices in restaurants and at home as well. This double-decker sensation usually contains turkey or chicken, mayo, tomato, romaine or bibb lettuce, and of course, bacon, all stuffed between layers of toasted bread.

But that doesn't mean there isn't room for a little creativity with your Club. Substitute fresh cabbage for the lettuce for a healthy crunch, or try some prosciutto or ham as an alternative to bacon. Add a little sun-dried pesto or Dijon mustard for a little spicier flavor. You could even veg-out the classic Club with meatless vegetable patties from your grocer's produce section.

Pamper your pastrami

How about those old-fashioned deli stand-bys, the Pastrami on Rye, or the Reuben? These days, you have endless options as substitutes for standard ingredients. If you're up for a change, you might forgo the spicy brown mustard for thin slices of red onion and spicy Pepper Jack cheese.

Speaking of cheese, there's always a little variety in a hearty brie or havarti over the standard Swiss cheese. Also, think about your choice of bread. Bagels, hoagie rolls, and tortilla wraps also make good substitutes for rye bread, especially when you choose the onion toasted or flavored varieties.

Build your own BLT

What sandwich shop would be complete without the classic Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwich? Yet, with a little creativity, you can make your own classic favorite with a few exotic ingredients. Guacamole or hummus, for instance, make great substitutes for mayonnaise. Maybe a little arugula, watercress, or bitter greens could stand in for your everyday variety iceberg or romaine lettuce.

Make it a ''BLC'' with a number of different cheeses like Muenster, Gouda, or a super sharp Cheddar. Again, for those health conscious folks trying to avoid traditional bacon, you could go with grilled strips of tempeh, turkey bacon, or vegan substitutes.

Heck, shred the bacon, lettuce, and tomato into a hot dog bun, add a little relish, and think of Coney Island. We've even seen gourmet chefs incorporate smoked salmon, BBQ shrimp, and lobster into fancier versions of BLTs. These may come with uncommon price tags in the fancy restaurants, but you can make them at home for your next picnic at a fraction of the cost.

As you can see, your imagination is all you need to create different takes on the old classic sandwiches. Choose a variety of ingredients to create a unique twist on old favorites. The choices you make could become healthier choices for your family that create more excitement at lunchtime... or anytime!

Reinvent your sandwich on rhe outside

For many people, a sandwich isn't a sandwich unless it's encased in two pieces of bread, most often one of only a few standard varieties – white, wheat, or rye. Some people don't even know that dozens of flat, sweet, and corn breads, like broa, lavash, papadum, and zwieback, even exist.

Thus, you can literally reinvent your sandwiches simply by substituting other breads filled with
\r\n your favorite ingredients. Let''s take a look at a few ideas to start you re-thinking your bread choices when making your next picnic sandwich.

Hard crusts

Ask the French or the Italians about bread, and their first choices will be hard breads like baguettes, boule, or fougasse. These choices add gourmet flair and flavor to more traditional sandwiches. As an added bonus, these breads make it easier to stack juicy, messy ingredients inside without worrying about having your tasty ingredients end all over your hands instead of in your tummy where they belong.

Grilled or pressed breads

Then there are those sandwiches that have been grilled, something many sandwich shops call paninis. Although not a specific type of bread, there are some common types used to create grilled sandwiches that are pressed with those familiar grill marks. Grilling and pressing gives a sandwich added flavor and texture, and a delightful appearance. Ciabatta, foccacia, and sourdough are some of the more popular bread choices you will want to try.

Wrap and roll

Sandwich bread varieties don't stop there. In fact, some sandwiches don't even require traditional breads to be complete. Take tortilla wraps, for example. The versatility of these lightweight flatbreads makes them tasty candidates for combining with common sandwich ingredients like meats, cheeses, lettuce, vegetables, and dressings, as well as less common sandwich makings like grilled fish and fruit.

You've probably seen these wraps beginning to replace traditional sandwich breads, even in the fast-food joints. With a wide variety of tortilla flavors like tomato-basil, spinach, sun-dried tomato, corn, and flour, it''s not difficult to create new tastes in the American diet. These soft tortillas are commonly used to make the pinwheel and roll-up sandwiches seen at parties and special events, but certainly are also a perfect choice for easy to eat sandwiches in a picnic basket.

In addition, many countries have their own flatbreads they use to make delicious sandwiches. In Norway, it's lefse, used in rakfisk wraps with potatoes, onions, and sour cream. In the Middle East, it's lavash, used by Jillian Michaels as a secret weapon of one of her most popular diet plans. People in Afghanistan bake a vegan flat bread called bolani, stuffing it with any number of vegetables and potatoes.

There are enough bread varieties to allow for individual tastes and exciting new possibilities with our ''standard'' sandwich ingredients. Try a few of these exotic breads at your nearest grocer or bakery, and you'll soon discover how easy it is to travel the world of flavor and variety with sandwiches that excite your palate and sense of adventure.

Reinvent your sandwich on the inside

It''s picnic time! You reach for your sandwich recipes and realize that you''ve served the same things for as long as you can remember. You have gotten so bored with the classics that not even tweaking them a little is appealing anymore. And, like many sandwich aficionados, you have already run the gamut of bread choices, from pumpernickel to crusty Italian bread to wraps, and way beyond.

How do you break free from the traditional sandwich ingredients? It seems you''ve tried it all already, or have you?

The main event

Let''s begin with what many of us consider the ''main'' ingredients of a sandwich and take a look at a few options.

Beef

A pile of thinly sliced roast beef is filling enough, but what about a nice thick steak? No, it''s not new, but often forgotten outside the local pub. Choose a very lean steak, like sirloin, that is less than an inch thick. Grill quickly in a hot skillet until done to your liking, then let cool. Now, isn''t that better than a stack of cold cuts?

Pork

One of our favorite sandwiches is pulled pork, but it''s also one of the most common. To break through this traditional favorite, use thinly sliced grilled or roasted pork tenderloin. This particular meat is tender and juicy and shaped just right for little sandwiches. Or, lay a row of thin slices on a baguette for a bigger appetite.

Chicken

What can you do with chicken that hasn''t already bored you to tears, such as deli sliced or chopped and made into chicken salad sandwiches. How about pounded into cutlets and rolled in crushed pecans, then fried. This adds crunch and flavor to your plain chicken sandwich. Let cool, and either slice and build a wrap or pile high on good bread and add your favorite sandwich fixings. Or, if the cutlets are thin enough, you can even use them to form fancy roll-ups.

Seafood

Put away that can of tuna and think way outside of that aisle. Any seafood you like can be thrown between two pieces of bread or into a tortilla wrap. Think fried oysters, spicy shrimp, and flaked crab meat. Layer fish filets with crawfish and a variety of greens for a double-decker you are sure to enjoy. Smoked salmon has enough flavor to carry a sandwich all by itself and make it stand out like nothing else.

Other Goodies

Peanut butter and jelly, cheese, and all those sandwiches we know and love can have you bored, too. Instead of PB and J, how about a PB and B – that''s peanut butter and bacon. That may not be new, but instead of just laying a few pieces of bacon on top of your peanut butter, crumble the bacon up and mix it in for delightful array of textures and salty goodness. If you want a PB and J, choose a jelly that perks up your sandwich, like a pepper jelly. The same goes for cheese sandwiches. Choose unique, flavorful cheeses to satisfy even the most gourmet palate.