For many of us, lunch time is sandwich time. And it just makes sense.
Sandwiches are easy to make, easy to pack, and can be made from just about anything.
But while we think nothing of putting plenty of thought into what goes between the slices of bread, we tend to overlook what goes on the bread.
As in, the spread.
And fact is, spreads deserve more credit than they get. A good one can transform ho-hum ingredients into something sensational. Leftover chicken breast on sourdough? That’s nice. Leftover chicken with garlic-white bean spread on sourdough? Now we’re talking.
Spreads are particularly important when trying to entice kids. After all, these are the folks who will gladly douse anything with ketchup. Condiments matter!
So here are a few of my favorite outside-the-box sandwich spreads. They are easy to make, easy to spread, and even easier to love. And if you’re out of bread, they also make fine dips!
One note: You’ll see hot sauce pop up in a lot of these. Don’t worry about the heat. A small amount of hot sauce added to recipes like this heightens the other flavors and adds a bit of zing, but no real heat. I generally use Sriracha, but go with what you love.
Also, most of these spreads are best made the night before. Make a batch, then refrigerate and use it over the course of the week.
Zippy White Bean Spread: Puree a 15-ounce can of navy or other white beans, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Miso-Carrot Madness: Puree 2 tablespoons sweet white miso, 1 cup steamed or microwaved baby carrots, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Artichoke “Dip” Spread: Puree a 15-ounce can of artichoke hearts, 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons regular or light mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Creamy Red Pepper Spread: Puree 4 ounces cream cheese, half of a 12-ounce jar (drained) roasted red peppers (pat them dry), 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon hot sauce.
Greek Spread: Puree 8 ounces of feta cheese, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (fat-free, if desired), 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Barbecue Chili Spread: Puree a 15-ounce can kidney beans, 1/4 cup bottled barbecue sauce, 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce and 2 ounces of cream cheese.
Want more lunchbox goodness? Check out: