Sandwich Talk with Alison Lewis

I’ve been doing a project for a company that requires me to work on-site a few days a week. The lunchtime pickings near their office are slim, so I usually prefer to take something in. Leftovers are fine, but I really like tucking into a good sandwich. The release of Alison Lewis’s first cookbook, 400 Best Sandwich Recipes: From Classics & Burgers to Wraps & Condiments (Robert Rose), arrived just in time.

Lewis, a longtime recipe developer and food consultant whose work has appeared in Cooking Light, Weight Watchers, Southern Living and other publications, has filled the book with tasty ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert. She also has a sizable section devoted to homemade condiments–aiolis, relishes, salsas and more.

I can’t wait for nectarines to peaches to come into season so I can make her Open-Faced Nectarine and Chevre Sandwich and Grilled Peach and Brie Sandwich (Lewis’s personal fave). Her Vietnamese-inspired Banh Mi Burgers, made with ground pork, are sure to turn up on our table this summer.

I asked Lewis about the importance of great condiments, her definition of the perfect sandwich (she should know!) and why she has her son to thank for the book.

You said your younger son, Zachary, came up with the idea for the book. How did that happen?

My publisher, Robert Rose, was looking for a hole in the cookbook market, and they publish single-subject cookbooks.

After months of ideas back and forth, I was on a conference call with my publisher discussing ideas, with my 3 children in the car. Zachary, said, “What about sandwiches?”

My publisher did some quick research, and he realized there was no bible of sandwiches. The rest was history.

But, wow, 400 sandwiches! Where did your inspiration come from?

Most of the recipes were inspired by sandwiches I love or have had in restaurants or while traveling. Some ideas came from friends’ suggestions and requests via social media.

I love that you devote so much space to condiments. Is a good homemade condiment the component that elevates a sandwich from OK to outstanding?

I believe so. What I really love about that chapter is so many also can be used as appetizers, Nectarine Relish, Pineapple Relish, Peach-Ginger Chutney and Southwestern Corn Salsa, to name a few

After developing all those sandwiches, burgers, wraps and condiments, how do you define the perfect sandwich?

Start with great bread and the freshest, most seasonal ingredients possible and add a great spread to top it off.