Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: Sandwiches


Milan Panini Shop

Although the first U.S. reference to panini dates to 1956 and a precursor appeared in a 16th-century Italian cookbook, panini sandwiches became trendy in Milanese bars, called paninoteche, in the 1970s, when office workers were looking for quick lunch choices. Trendy U.S. restaurants, particularly in New York, began selling the sandwiches, whose popularity then spread to other U.S. cities, each producing distinctive variations of of the sandwich.

Food historians generally agree, panini, as we know them today, originated in the sandwich shops of Italy, perhaps as early as the 1960s. A survey of newspaper articles confirms that the panini sandwich caught the American consumers attention in the mid-1970s. As time progressed, panini evolved from upscale fare to trendy sandwiches for everyone.

Panini for Lunch

Panini for Lunch

In many English-speaking countries, a panino (Italian pronunciation: [paˈniːno] from the Italian, meaning “small bread, bread roll”) is a grilled sandwich made from bread other than sliced bread. The plural form of “panino” in Italian is panini. Examples of the bread types used for panini are ciabatta, foccacia and Italian baguettes. The bread is cut horizontally and filled with deli ingredients or other foods and then pressed in a grill. There is widespread availability and use of sandwich presses, often known as “panini presses” or “toasted sandwich makers.”


In Italy classic filling combinations are:

mozzarella, tomato (plus arugula and/or prosciutto);
prosciutto and fontina cheese
prosciutto, chese and olive tapenade;
bresaola, goat cheese or stracchino (plus lettuce and/or tomato);
speck (smoked cured prosciutto from Tyrol), arugula and cheese
grilled vegetables and cheese.

When Italian panini are offered outside of Italy, they tend to differ quite substantially. The biggest no-no’s are the use of:

More than one kind of meat (this is very unlikely in Italy);
Large amounts of meat (in Italy, more than a few slices would be considered overpowering);
Too many ingredients (in Italy, it’s never more than 3 or 4 in total);
Any kind of dressing (oil and vinegar are for salads, not for sandwiches);
Honey-mustard, barbecue sauce, spicy mayo (since they don’t exist in Italy).


Breville 1976









Do you know who invented the sandwich press?

Thomas Edison. Before sandwich grills, people had to toast each slice of bread individually using an electric toaster or a griddle. The sandwich grill made it possible to brown two slices of bread at the same time. Unfortunately, Edison’s novel approach to sandwich-making didn’t get much attention from home cooks. It was discontinued in the early 1930s, according to the museum at Thomas Edison’s winter estate in Fort Myers, FL, where the celebrated scientist’s sandwich grill is on display. Edison’s contribution to the world of grilled sandwiches was entirely forgotten by the time Breville came out with its panini press in 1974.

A panini press, which is essentially a two-sided grill, used to grill a sandwich. This method may also be accomplished by placing the sandwich on a grill, pressing down firmly with a spatula, then turning the sandwich over and repeating the process. Depending on your preference, the outsides of the bread may or may not be buttered or brushed with extra virgin olive oil to give it a crisp texture.

Thinly sliced grilled chicken, turkey and roast beef can also make delicious panini. The meat needs to be cooked before being placed in the sandwich — grilling a panini only heats it through and does not actually cook the meat. After you’ve selected the bread, meat and cheese, decide on the extras.

Some popular additions to panini include spinach, roasted red peppers, basil, olive oil, olives, tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar and oregano. For a vegetable panini, use eggplant or zucchini, or any other vegetable that can be grilled. Panini make for a delicious and filling meal that is simple and quick to make and one that can be customized to your tastes.


Classic Italian Panino

Serves 1


  • One 6″ rectangular piece focaccia or ciabatta bread
  • 2 thin slices prosciutto or speck
  • 2 thin slices taleggio or fontina cheese
  • 1⁄2 cup arugula
  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Split the bread in half and place prosciutto, fontina, and arugula on the bottom half. Drizzle with vinegar, season with salt and pepper and cover with the top half. Place in a panini press and grill just until the cheese begins to melt.

paniniporkItalian Pork Panini

2 servings

In central Italy, herb-and-garlic-seasoned pork roast is called porchetta. If you cannot find delicatessen porchetta (sold in some specialty food stores), use roasted pre-marinated Italian pork tenderloin. Cool the pork before cutting into thin slices. If you can’t find the olive mix, chop some garlic-stuffed green olives and mix in a bit of olive oil.


  • 4 slices (½-inch thick) Italian country bread
  • Olive oil
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced porchetta or cooked Italian-seasoned pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoons minced green olive mix or tapenade
  • 2 ounces sliced Asiago cheese


Preheat a panini grill or stove-top griddle pan.

Divide pork, olive mix and cheese between 2 slices of bread. Top with remaining bread.

Brush the outsides of the bread lightly with oil.

Place sandwiches on a panini grill or stove top griddle. Cover with grill top or a grill press.

Grill 2 to 3 minutes or until golden and cheese starts to melt.


Tomato, Artichoke and Fontina Panini

2 servings


  • 4 slices sourdough or multi-grain bread
  • 4 slices Italian Fontina cheese (3/4 ounce each)
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, well-drained and sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 4 slices tomato


On two slices of bread, layer half the cheese, artichokes, spinach, two slices of tomato and the remaining half of the cheese.

Top with the uncovered bread slices.

Cook on a panini maker or indoor grill until bread is toasted and the cheese melts.



Grilled Vegetable and Cheese Panini

2 servings


  • One small onion (sliced)
  • 2 bell peppers, red or yellow (seeded and each cut in 4 wedges)
  • 2 zucchini (sliced)
  • 4 oz. (100 g) provolone, scamorza or fontina cheese (sliced)
  • One handful of fresh arugula
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and cayenne pepper
  • 4 slices (½-inch thick) Italian country bread


In a small skillet, saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

Grill the bell peppers and zucchini on a stove-top or outdoor grill (lightly sprinkled with salt) for about 15 minutes over medium heat.

When the peppers are ready, put them aside and peel off the skin (it should come off easily – if it doesn’t, let the peppers rest for 10 minutes in a sealed zip-lock while they are still warm).

Assemble the sandwich by layering the cheese, the grilled vegetables, the onions and the arugula on one half of the bread slices. Cook the sandwiches in the press until the cheese melts.


Pesto Chicken Panini

2 servings


  • 2 (2- to 3-ounce) Ciabatta rolls or foccacia bread
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 2 ounces mozzarella or fontina cheese, sliced
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced grilled or roasted chicken
  • 1 tomato, sliced thin


Preheat a panini grill or stove-top griddle pan.

Slice the bread in half. Spread the cut sides if the bread with pesto.

Top one side with chicken, cheese and tomatoes. Place the top on and brush lightly with olive oil, if desired.

Place in the grill or on a griddle. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until golden and the cheese starts to melt.


The Super Bowl is a few days away. And whether or not you care who wins, you may want to invite a few friends over to watch the game. So, what should you serve?

The average football fan eats about a day’s worth of calories during the game. Revamp your old favorites by making them healthier and introducing a few new ideas into your menu. You’ll be able to root for your team without going overboard on fat, calories and salt.

If you haven’t started planning what you’re going to serve, here are some ideas. The foods below are not going to ruin anyone’s New Year’s Resolutions.


Spicy Tortilla Strips


  • 6 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cut tortillas in half and cut each half into 5 strips to form 60 strips. Divide the tortilla strips evenly among 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper and coated with cooking spray.

Brush strips evenly with oil. Combine cumin and red pepper in a small bowl and sprinkle over strips. Bake for 10 minutes or until browned, rotating baking sheets after 5 minutes.


Fresh Tomato Salsa


  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh jalapeno pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


Stir the tomatoes, green bell pepper, onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, cumin, salt and pepper in a bowl. Serve with the tortilla strips.


Barbecue Spice Roasted Chickpeas

Makes about 3 cups


  • 2-15 ounce cans no-salt-added garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon barbecue spice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine garbanzo beans, oil, barbecue spice, paprika, chili powder, garlic salt, celery salt and onion powder.

Spread in an even layer in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Roast about 30 minutes or until browned and crisp, stirring once halfway through roasting. Cool completely.

To Make Ahead: Place cooled chickpeas in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week.


Italian Parmesan Pretzels

Makes 10 pretzels


  • 1 pound frozen whole wheat bread dough, thawed or homemade, recipe below
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • Mustard, for serving


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Divide dough into 10 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 15-inch-long rope.

To shape each pretzel, hold one end of the rope in each hand and form a U-shape. Cross the ends over each other and then twist. Then lift the ends across to the bottom of the U-shape; press to seal.

Arrange shaped pretzels on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with waxed paper; let stand in a warm spot for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl stir together Parmesan, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Brush pretzels evenly with half of the melted butter then sprinkle with the Parmesan mixture.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until browned. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack. Drizzle pretzels with the remaining melted butter. Serve warm or cool completely on baking sheet on a wire rack. Serve with mustard.

Whole Wheat Bread Dough


  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon water, room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cups + 6 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
  • 2 teaspoons yeast, active dry, instant


Mix and knead together all of the dough ingredients—by hand, mixer or bread machine—to make a soft (though not very sticky) dough. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise until it’s doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.


Turkey and Roast Beef Muffuletta

Makes: 10  servings


  • 1 jar (4.75 oz) pimiento-stuffed olives, drained and chopped
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup  olive oil
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons  red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1 large round crusty Italian bread (about 11/4 lbs)
  • 1/4 pound  sliced deli roast beef
  • 1/4 pound  sliced American cheese
  • 1 jar (12 oz) roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1/4 pound  sliced deli turkey
  • 1/4 pound sliced Provolone cheese


In a small bowl, combine olives, tomato, olive oil, celery, garlic, red wine vinegar, oregano, salt and black pepper.

Cut the loaf of bread in half crosswise. Spread bottom cut side with half of olive mixture. Layer on roast beef, American cheese, red peppers, turkey and Provolone cheese.

Spread remaining olive mixture over cheese and top with the other half of bread.

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and weigh down with a heavy pot filled with canned goods for at least an hour. Slice into 10 wedges to serve.


Slow-Cooker Brisket Sandwiches

Serves 8-10



  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 3 1/4 pounds brisket
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 16-ounce bottle beer or 2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth


  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 8 -10 whole-wheat buns
  • Bread & Butter Pickles


To prepare the brisket:

Combine paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper in a small bowl. Rub all over brisket. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the brisket and brown on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker.

Add beer (or broth) to the pan along with any remaining spice blend from your cutting board; increase heat to high. Cook for 5 minutes, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour over the brisket. Cover and cook on High for 6 hours or Low for 9 hours.

To prepare the sauce:

Mash garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a paste in a mortar and pestle or with the back of a spoon on a cutting board. Combine the garlic mixture with mayonnaise in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

When the brisket is done, transfer to a clean cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.

Pull the brisket apart into shreds with 2 forks and then coarsely chop the shredded meat. Combine the chopped brisket with the liquid in the slow cooker.

To serve:

Spread each bun with 1 tablespoon garlic sauce and top with about 3/4 cup brisket. Serve with pickles.


Caramel Popcorn


  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 12 cups air popped  popcorn


In a 4-quart Dutch oven heat and stir the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter and salt over medium heat until just boiling and sugar is dissolved. Stir in vanilla. Add popcorn and toss until coated.

Place coated popcorn in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 300 degrees F oven for 15 minutes, stirring once. Transfer to a large piece of foil to cool. Place in a serving bowl.


Frozen Neapolitans

Makes 48 bars


  • 4 cups chocolate-flavored crisp rice cereal
  • 1 ¼ cups chopped toasted almonds
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 pint chocolate ice cream (2 cups)
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream (2 cups)
  • 1 pint strawberry ice cream (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces or chocolate syrup


Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over short ends of the baking pan. Butter foil; set pan aside.

In a large bowl combine cereal and 3/4 cup of the almonds; set aside.

In a large saucepan heat butter over low heat until melted. Stir in marshmallows until completely melted. Remove from heat.

Add cereal mixture to marshmallow mixture; stir gently to coat. Using a buttered spatula or waxed paper, press mixture firmly into prepared pan. Freeze for 10 minutes.

Let ice creams stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Spread chocolate ice cream evenly over cereal layer in pan. Freeze about 30 minutes or until firm.

Spread vanilla ice cream over chocolate ice cream layer; freeze about 30 minutes or until firm.

Spread strawberry ice cream over vanilla ice cream layer. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup almonds and chocolate pieces or chocolate syrup.

Cover and freeze about 4 hours or until firm.

Using the edges of the foil, lift frozen mixture out of pan. Cut into about 1 1/2-inch squares. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies

Makes 30


  • 4 tablespoons  unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup  packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1  large egg
  • 1/2 cup  chunky-style applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cup  old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon  Kosher salt
  • 1 cup  golden raisins


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low-speed until combined. Add egg and applesauce, mix until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix in raisins.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies until golden and just set, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack set over parchment paper; let cool completely.


What makes for a great sandwich?

Is it the bread?

The meats?

The toppings, e.g. lettuce, tomato, sprouts, etc.?

The spread, e.g. mayo, mustard, dressing?

Well, of course it’s probably a combination of all (and probably some additional) factors.

But, the question is – What’s the most important thing to making a sandwich great?

For me – it is the quality of the bread – what is it for you?

sandwich 5

Mortadella, Cheese and Basil Panini

Mortadella is a large Italian sausage or cold cut made of finely ground, heat-cured pork sausage, which incorporates small cubes of pork fat. Mortadella is a staple product of Bologna, Italy.

6 servings


  • 1 (16-ounce) loaf ciabatta, cut in half horizontally
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 12 basil leaves
  • 8 ounces sliced mortadella 
  • 2 hot cherry peppers, sliced
  • 1 large plum tomato, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil cooking spray


Brush the cut side of the bottom bread half with mustard; brush the cut side of the top half with vinegar. Top the bottom half with mozzarella, basil, mortadella, peppers and tomato. Top with remaining bread half.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add the sandwich to the pan; top with another heavy skillet. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Cut sandwich into 6 wedges. If the sandwich does not fit in your pan, cut it in half and cook in two batches.

sandwich 2

Family Style Hearty Steak Sandwich

6 Servings


  • 2 cups seeded and diced fresh plum tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons pitted, chopped kalamata olives
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank or sirloin steak
  • 1 (1-pound) Italian round bread loaf (boule) 
  • 4 thin slices provolone cheese
  • 2 ounces arugula


Heat an outdoor gas grill.

Combine tomatoes, olives, basil, red onion, vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl.

Place steaks on the grill over medium heat. Grill to desired temperature, turning once. Place on cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain.

Slice bread horizontally. Grill, cut side down, until crisp and golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place cheese on the bottom half of the bread. Top with tomato mixture, steak and arugula. Top with remaining bread. Slice into wedges.

sandwich 1

Vegan Muffuletta

Serves 4-6


  • 3 large Portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons white wine or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced pitted black olives
  • 1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 (8-inch) Italian round bread loaf, halved horizontally
  • 1/3 cup sliced roasted red peppers
  • 1/3 cup sliced marinated artichoke hearts
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 12 basil leaves


Using a small spoon, scoop out and discard the black gills from each mushroom. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook just until it begins to turn light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Arrange mushrooms in the skillet in a single layer, then add wine and season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning the mushrooms once, until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes total. Set aside off of the heat to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine black and green olives, parsley, oregano, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl and press the mixture with the back of a spoon until it’s roughly mashed; set aside.

Using your fingers, remove some of the bread from the inside of both halves of the bread loaf, making sure to keep a 1-inch border around the edge. (This will help to make room for the filling. Save the bread that you remove for another use, such as bread crumbs or croutons.)

Layer both halves of bread with olive mixture then arrange peppers, artichoke hearts, pine nuts and basil on the bottom half. Top with the cooked mushrooms, spreading them out to cover the entire width of the bread. Assemble the top and bottom halves of the loaf to form a sandwich.

Serve muffuletta right away or wrap it very tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, weighted down with a heavy object like a cast iron skillet filled with a few heavy canned goods. Cut into wedges before serving.

sandwich 3

Mediterranean Tilapia Sandwiches

Za’atar is a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas.



  • 1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Za’atar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil cooking spray


  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Sandwich ingredients:

  • 4 Mediterranean wheat pitas or flatbread (such as Toufayan), heated
  • 1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
  • 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)


Preheat a broiler.

To prepare fish:

Brush fish with oil; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon Za’atar , 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with olive oil cooking spray. Broil 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

To prepare Tzatziki:

Combine yogurt and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor or blender; pulse until smooth.

To prepare sandwiches:

Spread 2 tablespoons Tzatziki sauce in the center of each pita. Divide fish evenly among the pitas. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons onion, 2 tomato slices and about 6 cucumber slices; fold pita or flatbread in half.

sandwich 4
Grilled Chicken, Tomato and Onion Sandwiches

4 servings


  • 3 ounces pitted mixed olives (1 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced 1/3 inch thick
  • 1 Vidalia onion (or any sweet onion), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 4 crusty Italian rolls, such as ciabatta
  • Salt
  • 1 3/4 pounds thin chicken cutlets


Light an outdoor grill.

In a mini food processor, pulse the pitted olives with the crushed garlic and oregano until chopped. Add the 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse until finely chopped. Season with pepper.

Brush the tomatoes, onion and cut sides of the rolls with olive oil. Grill the tomatoes and onion over high heat until they are softened and lightly charred, about 2 minutes for the tomatoes and 6 minutes for the onion. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Grill the bread until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.

Brush the chicken cutlets with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Grill them over high heat, turning occasionally, until they are lightly browned in spots and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.

Cut the chicken cutlets to fit the toasted rolls and top with the sliced tomatoes, sliced onion and olive relish. Close the sandwiches, cut them in half and serve.

The perfect sandwich is a healthy sandwich that tastes good and makes you full longer. Sandwiches are one of the most popular midday choices of on-the-go Americans. They’re quick, delicious and, if properly portioned, an option for losing weight. If you aren’t careful, though, a few high fat ingredients can add hundreds of extra calories. So before you make that sandwich, make sure you know what hidden calories are lurking between those bread slices. If you make smart choices regarding the basic elements of a sandwich, you’ll be building healthier sandwiches in no time. 

1. Select healthy bread.


  • High-fiber whole wheat bread.
  • High protein bread.
  • Wraps and pita bread (they are thin and have fewer calories). Whole wheat versions are even better.
  • Reduced calorie bread.
  • Multigrain bread.

2. Find high-quality proteins.

Most (although not all) sandwiches benefit from tasty, high-quality protein. What is available and healthy to you may vary by region or supermarket. Keep in mind portion control–a serving of meat should be about the size of a deck of playing cards.

Consider the choices:

  • Classic deli meats: Turkey, chicken, ham, roast beef, corned beef and others without nitrates.
  • Tip: Check the sodium in prepackaged and even deli-fresh meats; most products run high. Cut the sodium by slicing meat you have roasted at home or by asking specifically for meats lower in sodium.
  • Vegetarian spreads: Hummus, peanut butter, cashew butter, tahini, vegetarian patties
  • Salads: Tuna fish salad, seafood salad, chicken salad.

3. Cheese. Although cheese can add a good deal of fat, it also contains a good deal of calcium.


  • Harder cheeses, such as Swiss and Cheddar that usually have less fat.
  • Softer cheeses (like Blue cheese) may have more fat, but if spread thinly, can add overall less fat than slices of hard cheese.
  • You can even use low-fat cheese in a sandwich.

4. Dressing. Sandwiches usually taste best with a little condiment added–but it is optional.


  • Mustard, salad dressings, salsa and lowfat mayonnaise all add little calories and lots of flavor.
  • Avoid high-fat salad dressings, and regular mayonnaise in a sandwich.

5. Vegetables. A sandwich is a great way to slip in a lot of vegetables into a meal. Make sure they are fresh and crisp.


  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Cucumbers or pickles
  • Onions: sweet or red
  • Peppers: sweet or hot
  • Mushrooms
  • Lettuce
  • Bean sprouts
  • Apples (especially good with ham)
  • Sauerkraut (with corned beef is a classic Reuben Sandwich)
  • Herbs (Basil tastes terrific in a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich)

Consider heating or toasting:

Heating or toasting a sandwich adds no calories and can greatly enhance the taste. Add lettuce after heating.

Consider sides:

Sandwiches are even healthier with classic pairings like carrot and celery sticks, a bowl of healthy soup or a side salad.


A sandwich is a marvelous canvas to work with and while there are classic pairings (peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese on rye, grilled cheese, BLT, etc.) you can come up with  a new  favorites.

Here are a few ideas to start you off.

Turkey Reuben

4 servings


  • 2 cups packaged shredded cabbage with carrot (supermarket coleslaw mix)
  • 2 tablespoons Italian salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons Thousand Island salad dressing
  • 8 1/2 inch thick slices rye bread
  • 8 ounces sliced, cooked low sodium turkey breast
  • 4 slices provolone cheese (4 ounces) (reduced fat works just fine in this sandwich)
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • Pickle spears


In a medium bowl, combine coleslaw mix and Italian salad dressing; set aside.

Spread Thousand Island salad dressing on one side of each bread slice.

Place four of the bread slices, dressing sides up, on a work surface; top with turkey, cheese, tomato and coleslaw mixture.

Top with remaining bread slices, dressing sides down.

Preheat a large skillet sparayed with nonfat cooking spray over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Cook sandwiches, half at a time, for 4 to 6 minutes or until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted, turning once. If desired, serve with pickle spears.

Oven Fried Green Tomato BLT Sandwiches 

Makes 4 servings


Green Tomatoes & Garnish

  • 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 large green tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 8 slices cooked bacon
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 hamburger buns

Remoulade Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat sour cream or nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 sweet gherkins, chopped, or 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped


To cook tomatoes:

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Place a wire rack coated with cooking spray in a parchment paper-lined baking pan.

Whisk together buttermilk and egg white in a medium bowl.

Mix together cornmeal, salt, paprika and cayenne in a shallow dish.

Dip the tomato slices into the buttermilk mixture, then transfer to the cornmeal mixture. Gently turn each slice in the cornmeal mixture to coat.

Transfer the slices to the wire rack on the baking sheet. Lightly coat tomatoes on each side with cooking spray.

Bake the tomatoes in the hot oven until both sides are well browned, 18 to 20 minutes, turning once after 10 minutes.

To make remoulade sauce:

While the tomatoes are in the oven, combine mayonnaise, sour cream (or yogurt), horseradish, mustard, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, scallions, gherkins (or pickle relish) and capers in a small bowl.

To assemble sandwiches:

Place lettuce on the bottom halves of the buns. Top with tomato slices, remoulade sauce and bacon; cover with bun tops.


Tuna Steak Sandwiches

Serves 2


  • 2 tuna fillets, each 4 ounces
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat Caesar dressing, recipe below
  • 2 whole-grain onion buns
  • 2 lettuce leaves
  • 2 slices tomato


Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source.

Sprinkle the tuna fillets with pepper. Place the fillets on the grill rack or broiler pan. Brush the tuna with 2 tablespoons of the Caesar dressing while cooking.

Grill or broil until the fish is opaque throughout when tested with the tip of a knife, about 8 minutes. Just before taking the tuna off the grill, place buns on the grill or broiler pan to toast.

Place the tuna steaks on the buns. Top with lettuce and tomato. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Caesar dressing. Serve immediately.

Caesar Salad Dressing

Makes about 1/2 cup.


  • 1/2 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Place garlic and salt in a medium bowl and mash with the back of a spoon to form a paste.

Add lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustard, anchovy paste (if using), and pepper; whisk to combine.

Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly. Add cheese and whisk to combine.

The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Egg-Vegetable Salad Wraps

6 servings


  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow summer squash or zucchini
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fat-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh tarragon or basil or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon or basil, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 6 leaf lettuce leaves
  • 6 whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced


In a large bowl combine eggs, cucumber, squash, carrot and red onion.

For dressing:

in a small bowl stir together mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, milk, tarragon or basil, salt and paprika.

Pour the dressing over egg mixture and toss gently to coat.

For each sandwich:

Place a lettuce leaf on a tortilla. Place 3 or 4 tomato slices on top of the lettuce, slightly off center. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the egg mixture on top of the tomato slices. Roll up tortilla.

If necessary, secure with toothpicks. Cut the tortilla rolls in half crosswise. 

Mediterranean Chicken Panini

4 servings


  • Olive oil nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 recipe Tomato-Pepper Spread, below
  • 2 small skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces total)
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread or multigrain ciabatta rolls, split
  • 1 small zucchini


Lightly coat an unheated panini griddle, covered indoor electric grill or large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat over medium heat or heat according to manufacturer’s directions.

Add chicken. If using griddle or grill, close lid and grill for 6 to 7 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. (If using a skillet, cook chicken for 10 to 12 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning once.)

Cool chicken slightly; split each chicken piece in half horizontally and cut crosswise into 2-inch-wide slices.

Spread the Tomato-Pepper Spread on cut sides of the bread. Place chicken on bottom half of the bread.

Using a vegetable peeler, cut very thin lengthwise strips from the zucchini. Place zucchini strips on top of the chicken. Place bread tops on top of the zucchini, tomato pepper spread side down. Press down lightly. Lightly coat the top and bottom of each sandwich with nonstick cooking spray.

Place sandwiches on griddle, grill or skillet, adding in batches if necessary.

If using griddle or grill, close lid and grill for 2 to 3 minutes or until bread is toasted. If using skillet, place a heavy saucepan or skillet on top of sandwiches. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until bottoms are toasted.

Carefully remove saucepan or top skillet it may be hot. Turn sandwiches; top again with the saucepan or skillet. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more or until bread is toasted.

Tomato-Pepper Spread

Yield: 1/3 cup


  • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes (not oil packed)
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/3 cup drained bottled roasted red peppers
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


In a small bowl combine sundried tomatoes and the boiling water. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Transfer undrained tomato mixture to a small food processor (if you have a larger food processor you will need to stop and scrape down sides occasionally).

Add roasted red sweet peppers, balsamic vinegar, oregano, garlic and black pepper. Cover and process until smooth.


Grilled Vegetable Pitas

2 servings


  • 14 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Dash salt
  • Dash ground black pepper
  • 1/4 of a medium yellow or red sweet pepper, stem and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 large whole wheat pita bread round, halved crosswise
  • 8 fresh spinach leaves
  • 8 small fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta


If present, remove and discard mushroom stem. If desired, remove mushroom gills. In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Gently brush half of the oil mixture over mushroom and sweet pepper.

Place mushroom and pepper on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 10 to 12 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly charred and tender, turning frequently.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the remaining oil mixture and the tomato; toss gently to coat. Cut grilled mushroom and pepper into bite-size strips. Add mushroom and pepper strips to tomato mixture; toss gently to combine.

Open pita halves to create pockets. Line pita pockets with spinach and basil leaves. Fill pita pockets with grilled vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

Grilled Steak Sandwich

Serves 4


  • 1 (8- to 10-ounce) lean sirloin steak or 8 to 10 ounces leftover steak
  • 1 baguette, cut into 4 (5-inch) pieces
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 cups arugula or lettuce


Preheat the grill. Lightly oil the steak and grill it for 3 to 5 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes, then slice thinly.

While steak is resting, cut baguette in half horizontally.

In a small bowl combine mayonnaise and blue cheese.

Spread half the bread with the mayonnaise mixture; top with sliced steak and arugula. Top with remaining baguette half and divide into fourths.


You’re hungry, you just arrived home and you don’t have much food in the house. You can’t be bothered to cook and you want something that you can eat immediately. You need something more substantial than a yogurt or a mango, so what do you reach for? No, not the cereal, you need one of life’s most celebrated foodstuffs – the sandwich. But what makes a good sandwich?

Well, what is it?

Is it the bread?

The meats?

The toppings, e.g. lettuce, tomato, sprouts, etc.?

The spread, e.g. mayo, mustard,  dressing?

Well, of course it’s probably a combination of all and probably some additional factors.

But, the question I ask you is, ” what’s the most important thing to making a sandwich great?”

Good ingredients (not necessarily specific ones either) which go together, moist spread(s) whether mayo or mustard or tomato based, a very good bread or roll but not as thick as the often illustrated sandwiches in food magazines. You must be able to get your mouth around it with ease and not make a mess in the process.

According to popular legend, the sandwich was invented by John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, who, while gambling, told his butler to put some meat between two slices of bread so he could eat without interrupting the game and getting grease on the cards. Although the tale is almost certainly questionable because the first sandwich was probably made the day after bread was invented, but the earl did lend his name to this popular food.

At its simplest, a sandwich is two slices of bread enclosing a filling. It also is often a perfectly balanced meal, consisting of protein, vegetable, carbohydrate, often dairy and even fruit. My definition is somewhat broader: A sandwich is a filling enclosed in bread that can be eaten by hand. That definition leaves out such things as open-faced roast beef or turkey sandwiches smothered in gravy that must be eaten with a knife and fork.

My definition includes such things as wraps, tacos, Cornish pasties, empanadas and stuffed pitas — all of which can be held in one hand while playing cards.  So what makes a good sandwich for you?

Sandwich Ideas

Here is an international festival of quick-and-easy, absolutely delicious sandwich ideas that are a snap to make, travel well, and deliver satisfaction on outings of all kinds.

Recipes combine fresh seasonal vegetables and other unique ingredients—including leftovers—to make tasty and versatile treats great for lunchboxes, long hikes, or elegant romantic getaways for two!

Use these ideas as jumping-off places for your own creativity. And keep sandwiches in mind when you cook: Leftovers from the grill or the frying pan make great sandwiches the next day.

Peasant Loaf

Cut crusty bread or baguette in half lengthwise, brush with olive oil and fill with thin slices of Gruyere cheese, ham, a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves, mesclun salad greens, salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.

Crunchy  Garden Rolls

Slice tender rolls in half, spread with light mayonnaise and fill with thinly-sliced radishes, thinly-sliced English cucumber, chopped scallions, watercress, and fresh or dried dill.

Hearty Tuscan Grill

Fill wholegrain bread or rolls with leftover grilled vegetables—bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini or summer squash, tomatoes, onions. Drizzle with olive oil and fresh herbs.

Mediterranean Bagels

Spread halved bagels with light cream cheese and hummus, thinly-sliced cucumbers, chopped lettuce and tomato, and toasted sesame seeds.

Red Pepper & Spinach Wrap

This makes a delicious, quick and easy lunch that can be made ahead of time.

Serves: 1


  • 1 tablespoon low-fat cream cheese, plain
  • 1 10″ whole wheat tortilla
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 roasted red pepper, jarred
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, fresh
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/6 avocado, sliced


Spread cream cheese evenly over tortilla. Layer spinach leaves over cream cheese.

Chop red pepper and fresh mushrooms. Layer on top of spinach.

Add scallion and avocado. Roll, and wrap in foil for easy packing.

Italian Tuna Melts

Servings: 4

The tuna melt is a decidedly American sandwich with an Italian twist.


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Two 6-ounce cans Italian tuna in olive oil, drained and flaked
  • 9 ounces marinated artichokes, drained and coarsely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons shredded basil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 ciabatta rolls or 1 long ciabatta loaf, split lengthwise
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 pound Robiola cheese or Mozzarella, sliced


Preheat the broiler. In a medium bowl, whisk the 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard until combined. Add the flaked tuna, chopped artichokes, chopped olives, sliced red onion and shredded basil and toss gently. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Using a pastry brush, brush the cut sides of the ciabatta lightly with olive oil and broil cut side up on a baking sheet for 2 minutes, until the ciabatta is golden and lightly toasted; rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Rub the garlic clove over the toasted ciabatta and mound the tuna salad on top. Cover with the sliced Robiola cheese and broil until the cheese is just melted, about 1 minute. Serve the tuna melts at once.

Tomatoes on Toast

If you don’t have Boursin cheese, you can use light cream cheese with some chopped fresh herbs mixed in. You will find the Boursin easiest to spread if it has been sitting at room temp for 10 minutes or so.


  • 2 to 4 slices of Italian loaf bread
  • Light Herbed Boursin cheese, about 2 tablespoons per slice of bread
  • 1 medium to large vine-ripened tomato
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1 Toast the bread.

2 While the bread is toasting, slice the tomato into 1/4-inch slices.

3 Once the bread is lightly toasted, spread one side with Boursin cheese. Top with a couple slices of tomato, overlapping if necessary. Sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4 as a snack.

Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Pockets

Serves 8


  • 1 12-ounce package fully cooked chicken sausage links, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch broccoli (about 1 pound), cut into small florets
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 ounces provolone, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 pounds pizza dough, at room temperature
  • All-purpose flour, for the work surface
  • Cut-up vegetables and ranch dressing, for serving


1. Heat oven to 425° F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the sausage, broccoli, bell pepper, and garlic with the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Roast, tossing once, until the broccoli is tender, 25 to 30 minutes; let cool. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the provolone, and toss to combine.

2. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch each piece into a 7-inch circle. Dividing evenly, spoon the broccoli mixture onto one side of each round (about ½ cup each), leaving a ½-inch border. Dot the border with water, fold the dough over to form a semicircle, and press firmly to seal.

3. Place the pockets on a parchment-lined large baking sheet and cut several slits in each. Bake the pockets until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with the vegetables and ranch dressing.

4. The unbaked pockets can be frozen for up to 3 months. First freeze them on the baking sheet until firm, then transfer to freezer bags. To cook, bake the pockets from frozen on parchment-lined baking sheets at 425° F until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.


If freezing the pockets to cook at a later date, write the oven temperature and cooking time on the outside of the bag in permanent marker for easy reference.


Turkey & Tomato Panini

Some pickles and sweet potato oven fries can round out this meal. Thinly sliced roast beef can be substituted for the turkey in this Panini.

4 servings


  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 slices whole-wheat bread
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced reduced-sodium deli turkey
  • 8 tomato slices
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil


Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, Parmesan, basil, lemon juice and pepper in a small bowl. Spread about 2 teaspoons of the mixture on each slice of bread. Divide turkey and tomato slices among 4 slices of bread; top with the remaining bread.

Heat a panini maker and cook sandwiches according to manufacturer’s directions.

If you do not have a panini maker then have four 15-ounce cans and a medium skillet (not nonstick) ready by the stove.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 panini in the pan. Place the medium skillet on top of the panini, then weigh it down with the cans.

 Cook the panini until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, flip the panini, replace the top skillet and cans, and cook until the second side is golden, 1 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with another 1 teaspoon oil and the remaining panini.

The art of tailgating can be described as a delicate balance between sports and eating. It’s a place where fans can not only paint their faces, but enjoy a beer with a fellow supporter. It’s a medium where sports can be enjoyed pre-game and post-game.

There is something about the combination of friends, family, appetizers and beverages that excites fans like few other things can. Grilling burgers that are branded with your team’s logo, competing to see whose flag can fly the highest, and dressing children in sports paraphernalia – all are as American as the hot dogs and apple pies that are consumed while doing them. And while this time-honored tradition dates back to some of the earliest sporting events, tailgating has arguably grown more popular than the events with which they are associated.

How did tailgating begin?

One of the first tailgating events was first documented during the Civil War, although participants, in all likelihood, were not sharing recipes or playing a friendly game of horseshoes. The event took place in 1861 at the Battle of Bull Run. At the battle’s start, civilians from the Union side arrived with baskets of food and shouting, “Go Big Blue!” Their efforts were a form of support and encouragement for their side to win the commencing battle.

Although this event was a far cry from tailgates of today, this is one of the first historical events of passersby cheering on an event. This day also is important in that it documents food being used to celebrate a specific event.

Another event that would help shape the history of tailgating happened just five years after the Battle of Bull Run, in 1866 when Texas rancher, Charles Goodnight, transformed a U.S. army wagon into a portable feed wagon. Goodnight saw the need for cowboys to eat regardless of location, and invented his contraption – the chuck wagon – to help mobilize hearty meals. The chuck wagon, named after a lower-priced cut of beef called “chuck,” helped transform the face of the ranching industry. Goodnight’s portable cooking design was efficient, and more importantly, on wheels. Goodnight’s chuckwagon was an early model of many tailgating setups that are still used in present times.

Up to this point, however, each form of early tailgating had yet to be performed at an actual sporting event. The act of pre-game celebration would not be introduced to competitive sports until 1869, when the earliest signs of tailgating at a sporting event took place at the inaugural intercollegiate football game between Princeton and Rutgers. However, what arguably had the biggest effect on tailgating at this game, was a group of Rutgers fans and players, who wore scarlet-colored scarves (converted into turbans), in order to be separate from the other fans. Their school colors were a show of support, and defined them as belonging to a certain team. Back then, spectators traveled to the game by horse-drawn carriages, and spent the time prior to kick off grilling sausages and burgers at the “tail end” of the horse.

Still others claim that the cradle of tailgating is Green Bay, Wisconsin, and point to the year 1919, when the three-time Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers were first formed. Wisconsin farmers would back their pickup trucks around the edge of the open football field, open their tailgates to sit on and graze from a picnic basket of food as they watched “The Pack” play.

Freelance writer Chris Warner, who wrote A Tailgater’s Guide To SEC Football, produced a 2003 documentary on tailgating for The History Channel cable network’s Modern Marvels series. In it, Warner suggests any of the three origins could be considered valid, but that “While modern tailgating has only recently [within the last 30 years] become popular, the practice of enjoying both food and football has post-Civil War, 19th century roots.”

At the dawn of the Automotive Age, the word “tailgate” referred specifically to the hinged back section of a vehicle that could be removed or let up or down for the ease in loading or unloading cargo. Although its invention was a convenience for the driver and passengers, it became the foundation for the modern tailgating experience  seen at concerts and sporting events.

Ever since that first competitive collegiate game, the traditional form of tailgating has been practiced at sporting events everywhere. Ever since opposing players have faced one another, fans have worn the colors of their teams. And from the first meeting of schools, onlookers have cheered throughout the game for their teams.

Nowadays, food and beverages have become a staple before the big game. There are barbecues before baseball events, beers shared hours before kickoff, and cold cuts spread out at the start of a racing event. Tailgating is a large part of American culture, and is enjoyed today more than ever.

To date, tailgating has changed as much as the game of football itself. Where turbans were once worn to distinguish which team you were rooting for, caps, jerseys, themed T-shirts, and body paint now are the norm. And where food was once transported in a horse-drawn wooden wagon, grills and coolers now are transported with ease, allowing tailgaters to consume the best of foods and beverages on the road. Despite the changes in the evolution of tailgating, one thing has endured: the fans’ spirit.

Some Healthy Recipes For Your Next Tailgate Party

Zesty Baked Chicken Wings


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 16 chicken wings, each halved at joint and with tip removed
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup grated fresh Parmesan
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups dry breadcrumbs


  • 1 cup fat-free yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire


1. Combine first 8 ingredients (through lemon zest) in a large bowl, and whisk until combined. Pour over wings, transfer to a zip-top plastic bag, and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 425°.

3. Line a baking pan with foil. Spray foil with cooking spray; set aside.

4. Mix together Parmesan, parsley, and breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Coat wings in breadcrumb mixture. Place on prepared pan.

5. Bake on lowest oven rack for 20 minutes, then turn and cook for 10 more minutes.

6. While wings are baking, combine dip ingredients in a small bowl. Serve the wings with the dip.

Cucumber Cups Stuffed with Spicy Crab

6 servings


  • 3 long English cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup crab meat, excess water removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard
  • 1 tablespoon green onion, minced plus extra for garnish
  • Paprika


Peel the cucumbers and cut into 2 inch slices. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out 3/4ths of the inside, being careful not to scoop through the bottom. You want to leave the walls and a thick portion of the bottom intact.

In a medium bowl, mix together sour cream and cream cheese until well combined. Add in remaining ingredients and stir until just combined. Fill each cucumber cup with the crab mixture and refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle paprika and minced green onion on each cucumber cup for garnish.


(Makes 42 pigs)


  • 2 (8-ounce) cans refrigerated quick light crescent dinner rolls
  • 2 tablespoons grainy, Dijon, or honey mustard
  • 1 package Applegate cocktail franks (contains 42 franks)
  • Ketchup, mustard, or prepared horseradish


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Working with one package of rolls at a time, separate dough into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle into thirds and spread with mustard. Place one cocktail frank on widest end of triangle and roll up tightly. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, point side down. Repeat with remaining dough and franks. You will have a little extra crescent roll dough left over.

2. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm with ketchup, mustard, or prepared horseradish.

Make-ahead tip: Prepare pigs-in-a-blanket and freeze for up to a week. To reheat: place pigs, thawed, on cookie sheet, covered loosely with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Eggplant Bruschetta

Serves: 8


  • 1 large or 2 small eggplants, peeled
  • Dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Olive oil for brushing on eggplant slices, plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Toasted baguette slices.


Slice eggplant in thin circles, brush lightly with olive oil, salt them lightly, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

Bake them on a greased baking sheet at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool. Finely dice and combine with remaining ingredients.

Spread on toasted baguette slices.

Italian Sausage Chili                                                      

Servings: 12


  • 1 pound Italian Sausage links, any flavor
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large sweet green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 (14.5 ounce) cans Italian style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (16 ounce) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • Asiago, Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated


1. Grill the Italian sausages and cut into half moon slices. Set aside. In a soup kettle, saute the onion, celery, sweet peppers and garlic in oil until tender. Add sausage and the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until flavors are blended.

2. Sprinkle chili with grated Asiago, Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Vegetarian Chili

Serves 6                                                                                                              


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced medium
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes


In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and garlic is soft, about 4 minutes. Add chili powder, oregano, season with salt and pepper, and cook until spices are fragrant, 1 minute. Add zucchini and tomato paste; cook, stirring frequently, until tomato paste is deep brick red, 3 minutes. Stir in black beans, pinto beans, and both cans diced tomatoes. Add 2 cups water and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a medium simmer and cook until zucchini is tender and liquid reduces slightly, 20 minutes.

Mini Muffulettas

Tailgate Tip: Prepare sandwiches the day before the game.

Place in zip-top plastic freezer bags, and refrigerate overnight.

12 servings                                              


  • 2 (16-oz.) jars mixed pickled vegetables (Mezzetta Italian Mix Giardiniera)
  • 3/4 cup pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil-and-vinegar Italian dressing
  • 12 small whole wheat rolls, cut in half
  • 6 Swiss cheese slices, cut in half
  • 12 thin Applegate Farms deli ham slices
  • 12 Applegate Farms Genoa salami slices
  • 6 provolone cheese slices, cut in half


1. Pulse pickled vegetables in food processor 8 to 10 times or until finely chopped. Stir in olives and dressing.

2. Spread 1 heaping tablespoonful pickled vegetable mixture over cut side of each roll bottom. Top each with 1 Swiss cheese slice half, 1 ham slice, 1 salami slice, 1 provolone cheese slice half, and roll tops. Cover with plastic wrap. Serve immediately, or chill until ready to serve.

Tomato and Provolone Sandwiches

4 servings


  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 slices whole-grain country bread
  • Olive oil for grilling bread
  • 4 slices provolone cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 large or 3 medium tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced 1/2 inch thick


Preheat grill to medium on one side of the grill.

Mash garlic on a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife or a spoon until a paste forms. Transfer to a small bowl and combine with mayonnaise, basil, lemon juice, pepper and salt.

Brush bread slices lightly with olive oil and place on the hot side of the grill. Grill until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the bread over onto the cool side of the grill and divide cheese among 4 of the pieces. Continue grilling with the cover down until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes.

Assemble sandwiches with tomato and the garlic-herb mayonnaise. Top with the melted cheese bread.



Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches

Created on the South Side of Chicago in the Italian neighborhoods around the now defunct Stockyards, the classic Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich is a unique, drippy, messy variation on the French Dip Sandwich. It is available in hundreds of places around the city but rarely found outside of Chicago. The exact origin is unknown, but the sandwich was probably created by Italian immigrants in the early 1900s as they rose from poverty and were able to afford beef for roasting.

No one knows for sure who invented the sandwich, but the recipe was popularized by Pasquale Scala, a South Side butcher and sausage maker. During the Depression food was scarce and Scala’s thinly sliced roast beef on a bun with gravy and fried peppers took off. Today, beef sandwiches are a staple at Italian weddings, funerals, parties, political fundraisers and luncheons and Scala’s Original still supplies hundreds of restaurants and Italian Beef Stands with the raw ingredients.

Italian Beef is made by slowly roasting lean beef in a pan filled with seasoned beef-based stock. Some folks call it gravy, but in most Chicago Italian households gravy is a term reserved for tomato sauces. Others call it au jus or “juice” for short. Then it is sliced paper-thin, soaked in the juice for a few minutes and layered generously, dripping wet, onto sections of Italian bread loaves, sliced lengthwise. According to Allen Kelson, former restaurant critic for Chicago Magazine and now a restaurant consultant, it is important that the bread has “wet strength”. The meat is topped with sautéed green bell pepper slices, Pepperoncini and Giardiniera, which is usually a spicy hot blend of chopped Serrano peppers, carrots, cauliflower florets, celery, olives, herbs, salt & pepper, packed in oil and vinegar. Finally juice is spooned over the toppings, making the bread wet and chewy.

12 servings


Pot Roast:

  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • Sprigs fresh thyme

Pepper Topping:

  • 1  medium sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 1  medium green pepper, julienned
  • 1  clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2  tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 16  ounces sliced or whole pepperoncinis                                                                                                                                                                                          
  • 2  (1-pound) loaves hearty Italian bread, cut into halves lengthwise


For the Pot Roast:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and position a rack in the middle position of the oven. Liberally sprinkle the entire roast with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides until golden and caramelized; reduce the heat if the fat begins to smoke.

Transfer the roast to a plate and reduce the heat to medium. Add in onions and saute, stirring occasionally until just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper and saute until fragrant. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze with the red wine and cook until the alcohol smell is diminished. Add in the stock and thyme and bring to a simmer. Place the roast back into the pot with any accumulated juices, cover and place in the oven.

Cook the roast, turning every 30 minutes, until very tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and tent with foil. Strain the juices in the pan through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Once cooled a bit, pull the meat into smaller chunks, add to bowl with pan juices and reserve for the sandwiches.

For the Peppers:
Increase the oven heat to 350 degrees F. Toss the pepper strips with the oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring halfway through, until lighter in color and soft, about 20 minutes.

To assemble the sandwich:  Spoon some juice directly onto the bread. Get it very wet. Then layer the beef generously and spoon on more juice. Top it with bell pepper,  Giardiniera and Pepperoncini.

Italian Subs – New York Restaurant Style

“This is a classic Italian sub sandwich with three kinds of meat and provolone cheese. The kind you get in a mom and pop pizza restaurant.

8 Servings


1 head leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn
2 medium fresh tomatoes, sliced very thin
1 medium red onion, sliced very thin
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pinch dried oregano
1/2 pound sliced hot Capacola
1/2 pound thinly sliced Genoa Salami
1/4 pound thinly sliced Prosciutto
1/2 pound sliced Provolone Cheese
4 submarine rolls, split
1 cup Pepperoncini, sliced to fit sandwich


1. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, tomatoes and onion. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, wine vinegar, parsley, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes and oregano. Pour over the salad, and toss to coat evenly. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.
2. Spread the submarine rolls open, and layer the Capacola, Salami, Prosciutto, and Provolone Cheese evenly on each roll. Top with some of the salad, and as many Pepperoncini pepper slices as desired. Close the rolls and serve.

Pepper and Egg Sandwich

Since the 1950′s, and possibly earlier, the “pepper ‘n egg” sandwich has been a popular lunch for Italian American families. When I was a child, my mother would pack a pepper and egg sandwich for my school lunch box. I can remember some of my school mates, saying, “EWW – what is that….” I just shrugged because it tasted yummy. As an adult, I make pepper and egg sandwiches regularly. I introduced them to my Irish husband long ago and it is still one of his favorite sandwiches.

4 Servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf Italian bread or rolls


Heat a sauté pan over medium heat then add olive oil. Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and sauté for a minute or two. Add the onion and peppers, regulating the heat so the onions don’t burn. Sauté until the peppers have softened.
Raise the heat to medium-high and add the beaten eggs. Stir to combine with the onions and peppers and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are set.
Slice the bread lengthwise without cutting all the way through. When the eggs are done, gently slide them onto the bread to make a sandwich and cut the loaf into four portions.

Open-Face Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches

Serves: 4


  • Four large 1/2-inch-thick slices of Italian peasant bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • One 1 1/4-pound eggplant, sliced crosswise into 8 slices 1 inch thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 8 large basil leaves, torn
  • Coarse sea salt


  1. Light a grill. Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil and grill over high heat until crisp on the outside but still soft inside, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to a platter.
  2. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn and grill until tender, about 3 minutes longer.
  3. Top the eggplant with the tomato, mozzarella and basil. Cover the grill and cook until the cheese just begins to melt, 1-2 minutes. Transfer 2 eggplant slices onto each slice of bread, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

New Orleans Muffuletta Sandwich

The muffufletta sandwich’s nickname is simply “muff.” These sandwiches can be found all over New Orleans from delis to pool halls and the corner grocery stores. It is considered as much a signature sandwich of New Orleans as the Po’ Boy Sandwich. It is an Italian sandwich that consists of a round loaf of bread (about 10 inches across) filled with Italian salami, olive salad, cheese and Italian ham. They key ingredient is the olive salad which gives the sandwich its special flavor and makes it appealing to the eye. A true Muffuletta Sandwich must always be served at room temperature. Imagine a sandwich that is almost as round as a Frisbee and so wide that it is hard to bite into.
  • 1 round loaf Italian bread, 10-inches in diameter
  • Olive Salad (see recipe below)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces salami, thinly sliced 
  • 2 ounces Italian ham (Proscuitto), thinly sliced 
  • 2 ounces Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
Make Olive Salad.
Cut bread in half crosswise and scoop out about half of the soft dough from top and bottom pieces (this is to provide more room for the sandwich ingredients). Brush the inside bottom of loaf with olive oil or juice from the Olive Salad marinade.
Layer salami, Italian ham and Provolone cheese on the bottom piece.
Top with as much Olive Salad as will fit without spilling out. Add top of loaf and press down slightly. Slice in quarters or sixths and serve at room temperature.
Makes 4-6 servings, depending on the appetite.

Olive Salad

  • 2/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped green olives 
  • 2/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pimiento 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 anchovy fillet, mashed 
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed 
  • 1/2 cup finely-chopped fresh parsley leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon finely-chopped fresh oregano leaves 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper 
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and then allow the flavors to mingle for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Italian Meatball Sub

Dominic Conti (1874-1954) claims he was the first to use the name, submarine sandwich. Angela Zuccaro, granddaughter of Dominic, related the following information:
“My grandfather came to this country in 1895 from Montella, Italy. Around 1910, he started his grocery store, called Dominic Conti’s Grocery Store, on Mill Street in Paterson, New Jersey where he was selling the traditional Italian sandwiches. His sandwiches were made from a recipe he brought with him from Italy which consisted of a long crusty roll, filled with cold cuts, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, oil, vinegar, Italian spices, salt, and pepper. The sandwich started with a  layer of cheese and ended with a layer was cheese (this was so the bread wouldn’t get soggy).”
Angela continued,”My mother often told me about how my grandfather came to name his sandwich the Submarine.” She remembered the incident very well, as she was 16 years old at the time. She related that “when grandfather went to see the Holland I in 1927, the raised submarine hull that was put on display in Westside Park, he said, ‘It looks like the sandwich I sell at my store.’ From that day on, he called his sandwich the ‘submarine.’ People came from miles around to buy one of my Grandfather’s subs.”

Ooey-Gooey Meatball Submarine Sandwich. Photo by Sarah_Jayne



  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly toast rolls.
  2. Sprinkle both cheeses in the bottom of the rolls, holding back about 2 tablespoons for the top of the rolls.
  3. Place the meatballs down the centre of the roll and ladle hot Marinara sauce on top.
  4. Sprinkle a tablespoonful of reserved shredded cheese and the Parmesan cheese over top. Sprinkle some dried oregano and basil the over top.
  5. Put meatball sub in an oven-safe dish and return to oven for a couple of minutes to heat through and melt the cheeses. Cool for a minute before digging in and you may need a large napkin. 

If you would like a healthier alternative for Italian Cold Cuts, then you may want to check out Applegate Farm products.
According to Applegate Farm’s policies:

When you pick up an Applegate Farms product, you can be assured that…

  • Our animals are never given antibiotics. Healthy animals don’t need medicine. Instead, we give them space, fresh air, and a healthy diet, which we’re certain beats the alternative.
  • Our livestock eat a completely vegetarian diet with no animal by-products. Cattle in our organic program are grass-fed. Hogs and poultry in our organic program are fed a grain diet that includes corn, soy, barley, and flax that are free from GMOs.
  • Our animals are never given hormones or artificial growth promotants. They grow at their natural rate.
  • All of our products are made with natural and organic ingredients. If you aren’t familiar with a particular ingredient, email us and we’ll tell you what it is.
  • Our products are all minimally processed, allowing for a wholesome texture and taste.
  • Our products never contain artificial nitrates or nitrites. Instead, we use celery juice and sea salt to preserve our products the natural and old fashioned way.
  • Our deli meat, hot dogs, burgers, and bacon are gluten and casein free.
  • Our products are made from natural and organic whole muscle meat. Yes, even our hot dogs! No mystery here.

Genoa Salami






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