The sandwich is the iconic American food. Slap some protein, vegetables, and condiments inside two pieces of bread and you’ve got yourself a meal, or a good portion of one.
But because a sandwich is often made with bread processed wheat, pasteurized cheese with additives, processed meats, and over-seasoned condiments with undesirable ingredients, many people steer away from enjoying sandwiches for health reasons.
Thankfully we can look back to traditionally prepared foods to create sandwichs teeming with life in the form of cultured foods. In fact those two cornerstones of a good sandwich — bread and cheese — are some of the most commonly cultured foods in all of history.
So throw off the industrialized, pasteurized, hum-drum lunch and put together a cultured sandwich!
By definition, a sandwich must contain a bread product of some sort. You could make it a tortilla, a bagel, an English muffin, or a good old country-style loaf. Whichever wrapper you choose, make your sandwich with a cultured one.
Your best bet for a more nutrient-dense fermented option is sourdough or sprouted bread, or both. Use this basic sourdough bread using sprouted flour for the ultimate cultured sandwich bread. Or, try your hand at a gluten-free sourdough for a sandwich treat.
MEAT, CHEESE, AND BEANS
Every sandwich needs some protein. Most people prefer some meat on their sandwich, and meat is not usually a cultured food product. However, you can use meat simmered in bone broth, or brined with a cultured liquid such as kombucha, to add a little probiotic goodness. Or spread a little probiotic-rich cultured chicken paté as a savory base for your sandwich.
Cheese can be a tangy, pungent, and cultured addition to your sandwich. Be sure that your cheese actually contains cultures, whether by reading the label or making your own with cultures you can purchase.
If you’d like a vegan option, use a sturdy dip like probiotic guacamole or bean dip, or use tempeh for a heftier texture.
Lacto-fermented vegetables are a wonderful addition to any sandwich. The tangy, salty flavor of these cultured veggies is a lovely contrast to creamy cheese and fresh tomatoes or lettuce. Try one of these on your sandwich:
In a lot of ways the condiment choice makes or breaks a sandwich. It can take you down a southwestern route with guacamole, an all-American route with ketchup, or the childhood sandwich memory lane with mayonnaise.
Beef up your condiments by using lacto-fermented versions such as:
PUTTING TOGETHER YOUR CULTURED SANDWICH
Interestingly enough, many traditional sandwiches were made with cultured foods. Here are a few ideas for how to put together a traditionally cultured sandwich:
Reuben. Layer corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing, and sauerkraut atop sourdough rye bread.
Patty Melt. Make a good old American hamburger with high-quality beef. Top it with raw Swiss cheese, and pickled onions or sauerkraut. Layer it all up on buttery toasted sourdough bread.
The Sweet and Savory Cheddar and Chutney. If you’re looking for something a little different try the delicious sweet and salty combination of a sharp cheddar and cultured fruit chutney sandwich atop a whole grain sourdough.
Southwestern Wraps. Combine shredded cheddar, cultured guacamole, and fermented bean paste in a sourdough tortilla for a little Mexican food twist.