Sandwiches are an essential part of any summer meal plan. But don’t let yourself fall into the trap of the same old fillings. While the invention of the sandwich is most frequently attributed to the English Earl of Sandwich — from whom the dish gets its name — there have been many picnic sandwich recipes before and since that have graced plates and palates worldwide.
Some of our all-time favorite sandwiches hail from abroad, so when you’re preparing your picnic basket this summer, consider including some of our very favorite international picnic sandwich recipes.
The Vietnamese banh mi is the intriguing result of French colonialism. The French brought ingredients like pork pâté, mayonnaise and baguette, and combined with local Vietnamese ingredients, the banh mi was born. “Banh mi” is actually a deformation of the French pain de mie, meaning sandwich bread, so it’s not deviating from tradition to forego the traditional chicken or pork for tofu. This tofu banh mi is an excellent lighter version of this Asian classic.
If there’s an international sandwich that’s particularly perfect for picnics, it’s no doubt the pan bagnat. This Provençal tradition is perhaps best described as a Niçois sandwich stuffed into a large roll. And the best part comes to those who wait: after assembling the sandwich and wrapping it tightly in plastic, the bread soaks up the flavors of the different ingredients. The hearty crust of the traditional roll can stand up to the olive oil and tomato juices, so be sure to pick something sturdy for this French classic.
It may seem counter-intuitive to sandwich carbs between carbs, but one of the most popular Spanish sandwiches is a tortilla bocadillo, a sandwich made of potato omelette on baguette. Strange to some, heaven to others. Don’t knock this classic until you’ve tried it: the protein from the eggs will keep you surprisingly full, and if it feels too bizarre to eat pure carbs, add a few roasted peppers and a fresh garlic aioli to the mix.
Image: Kirsten Hudson
The Danish smørrebrød may be more difficult to pack into a picnic basket than some, but that’s no reason not to reserve a place for this open-faced specialty at your al fresco table. The Danish sandwich’s name comes from “buttered bread” and is essentially a combination of rye, butter, and a host of toppings for something as generous as it is delicious.
Image: Emily Monaco
While the origins of falafel are somewhat disputed, we can all agree that the tasty fritters make a delicious vegetarian sandwich. Some versions use ful, others use fava beans, but the most common versions call for chickpeas. These falafel sandwiches belong to the latter category, with the added bonus of being baked, which allows you to avoid some of the excess fat a fried falafel contains without sacrificing flavor.
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Top image: Isaac_licious