by Sean Keeley, culinary specialist, Lincoln Land Community College
Since having to shelter-in-place a lot of us have been taking up new hobbies. For me, I picked up fishing again. It’s a great sport ,and you can practice social distancing while you do it – you can even bring along those you live with and have a picnic. A standard entrée is the sandwich.
My first real culinary job in the industry was at a place called Togo’s Eatery in San Jose, Calif. One of the first sandwich shop chains in the U.S., it was/is very popular on the west coast. I worked there for six years as it was easy to move around the Bay Area since they had several locations in each city.
When I left to expand my culinary skills, I was pretty tired of sandwiches, but over time I grew to love them again – especially now since I don’t eat them every day. There are all the classics, all the new versions (of the classics), different types of bread to suit every type of dietary need and the list can go on forever! Two of my favorites are the classics, BLT and tuna salad (not together mind you, yeck). Use your favorite brands of tuna, or look for one that uses sustainable fishing practices. For a list of better brands go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood buyers guide and sustainable fishing list at www.seafoodwatch.org which provides the species that are preferred, alternatives and what to avoid.
When it comes to tuna I prefer “light tuna” packed in olive oil. Light vs. white tuna is like chicken thigh meat vs chicken breast, the light tuna has more flavor and the white is a little bland. Oil packed tuna has a better flavor than water packed tuna, but avoid vegetable, canola or soy oil as they do not contain the health benefits of olive oil. Either way they must all be drained before use. Drain oil packed tuna over the trash and not in the sink. The recipes below can be adjusted to suit your taste, and other options can be added as well. I have an abundance of basil growing with my tomatoes and my hot peppers have taken off!
Makes 2 to 3 sandwiches
Select your tuna (Some canned or foil packed tuna come in similar size packaging, but have a different weight, use the brand you like.)
In a medium bowl add:
2 each 5 to 6 ounce cans of tuna, drained
1/4 cup good mayonnaise (I am not a fan of salad dressing)
2 teaspoons of a good brown, or deli mustard
1/2 rib celery, minced
1 scallion, minced
3 gherkin pickles, minced
1 Tablespoon capers, minced (optional)
1 Tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
4-6 slices of your favorite bread (I like a 12 grain bread for this sandwich)
Gently mix all ingredients together and put ½ to ¾ cup of salad on a slice of bread. Top with the other slice or add shredded lettuce, tomato, slice of cheese or whatever you like and wrap up for your picnic.
This recipe makes one sandwich, so multiply as needed
Again, select the brands of bacon and bread you like. Tomatoes are coming in fresh and so are lettuces so now is the best time to use produce from your garden – all items can be purchased at the Farmers’ Market right now. How cool is that?
3 to 4 slices of bacon or guanciale
2 to 3 slices of vine ripe tomato
2 to 4 teaspoons of good mayonnaise
1 or 2 lettuce leaves of choice (enough to make 2 or 3 layers)
1 Tablespoon butter
*optional ingredients may be Kosher salt (depending how salty you bacon is), fresh pepper, hot peppers, fresh herbs, avocado is amazing and/or cheese. Do you really like pickles or pepperoncini enough to put on a BLT? Well then why not?!
My son makes the best bacon hands-down! His technique is to cook over low heat in a large skillet and he turns often until cooked to likeness. We like ours to be crisp with a few tender spots.
I’ll tell you my tips for this sandwich but make it the way you like. I like to toast one side of the bread, so I spread butter on the two slices and toast in a warm skillet – butter side down until golden on one side. You may like dry toast from a toaster, either way I recommend toasted bread. I put my mayo in a dish and add a little salt and pepper then I added some basil from the garden and put a couple hand torn leaves into the mix. Spread the mayo mix on the untoasted sides of the bread and then stack avocado slices (if using), lettuce, tomato, bacon and top with the other slice. I like the tomato in the center to keep the bread/toast from getting too soggy. Nothing beats a BLT made with a fresh tomato from the garden!
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts.