It’s back to school and back to work. And back to finding ways to make the transition from holiday fun easier. Interesting new lunch box creations fit the bill.
The sandwich is the lunch box supremo: open to endless interpretations and as simple or as elaborate as you like. Sandwiches are popular around the world — Americans eat more than 300 million a day! — with many countries offering their own unique versions.
These include; the crust-free cucumber, salt and pepper summer sandwich of Wimbledon fame; the katsu sando of Tokyo — fried breaded pork, sliced cabbage, tonkatsu sauce and mayo; the peanut butter and jelly — a favourite of the midwestern USA; and, of course, the bahn mi of Vietnam.
Sandwiches are synonymous with lunch boxes. And lunch is the second most important meal of the day, especially for children. It should provide about one-third of our daily nutrients which help keep our energy levels and concentration in peak condition during the afternoon.
Ensure your lunch box menu contains: a source of protein to aid alertness; complex carbohydrates for slow-release energy; calcium for growth, healthy bones and teeth; and fruit and vegetables for vitamins and minerals to supplement your yummy sandwiches.
CHICKEN BHAN MI
Although this Vietnamese sandwich is usually served hot it also makes an excellent cold take-away lunch for picnics or work. The chicken can be cooked the night before. Or toss cooked chicken in the marinade if you’re short of time.
Chicken: 1/4 cup each: fish sauce, lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small chilli, seeded and diced
200g skinned and boned chicken
Pickled Veg: 1/4 cup each: hot water, rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch each: salt, chilli flakes
2 each: small carrots, large red radishes
Sandwiches: 2 short baguettes or long rolls
1/3 cup mayo
1/4 telegraph cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves, sliced
Combine the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic and chilli. Place the chicken in a small dish and pour the marinade over. Cover and marinate for at least an hour or overnight.
To pickle the veg, combine the water, rice vinegar, sugar, salt and chilli flakes in a small bowl. Thinly slice the carrots and radishes on an angle. Add to the marinade. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.
Drain the chicken and grill about for about 6 minutes each side or until cooked. Slice open the rolls and grill the insides until golden.
Thinly slice the chicken. Spread the mayo over the cut sides of the rolls. Drain the vegetables. Layer the rolls with the thinly sliced chicken, pickled veg and mint. Makes 2.
MINI CHEESE BITES
An option is to use garlic butter.
12 x 1cm-thick slices French baguette
100g processed mozzarella, thinly sliced
2 Roma or medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
Butter one side of each slice and lay buttered side down in a large non-stick frying pan. Top each with the cheese then a tomato slice.
Cook on medium for 2-3 minutes, until golden. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Makes 6.
DOUBLE-DECKER CHEESE & HAM
I used McLure’s Spicy Pickled cucumbers and my own home-made beetroot chutney.
butter or table spread to taste
6 slices toast bread
4 large slices mozzarella or gouda cheese
6 slices pickled cucumber
1/2 cup diced ham
6 tablespoons beetroot chutney
Heat a ridged frying pan on medium.
Butter one side of 4 slices of the bread. Place 2 slices, butter-side down, in the pan. Layer with the cheese and pickled cucumber. Top with the unbuttered bread slices. Top with the diced ham and beetroot chutney. Top with the remaining buttered bread, butter-side up.
Toast until golden underneath. Flip and toast the second side. Cut on the diagonal. Serves 2.