Saturday, January 30, 2016

Take it Off: Revealing the Charms of the Open-Faced Sandwich

A trio of Danish open face sandwiches
I first discovered the joys of the topless sandwich when I visited Copenhagen four years ago. After two frustrating days of searching for an affordable lunch spot ($35 for a salad?!), I stumbled upon a Danish deli where open face sandwiches  glistened like jewels under the glass display. Best of all, a trio of the works of art set me back less than $5.00. 

As it turns out, the Danish open face sandwich, or smorrebrod, is a thing. Smorrebrod, literally "butter bread," got its name because a smear of butter or duck fat keeps the bread from getting soggy. 

You can read more about the history and etiquette and check out four too-pretty-to-eat recipes, on this NPR article, The Art of the Danish Open Face Sandwich. 

Lucky for me, the popularity of the topless sandwich has spread to other European countries. In Prague, I feasted on two little works of art with a bottle of cheap wine for less than $8.00. 

In Prague: crab salad garnished with lemon, red pepper and parsley, and creme fraiche with caviar

When I returned home, I got to work taking the top off in the kitchen. My first attempt started with European Style Whole Grain Bread, a dense and delicious loaf from Trader Joe's, topped with leftovers from a salad.
TJ's European Style Whole Grain Bread topped with arugula, pears, candied 
pecans and blue cheese (left and right) or same bread topped with mayo, arugula 
and sliced boiled eggs

And last week my simple egg salad sandwich went topless. See how much prettier it is when the salad isn't stuffed between two slices of bread? 

Mixed greens, egg salad topped with minced red onion and chives

Why Go Topless?

  • You can show off your sandwich's hidden assets. Don't let a slice of bread hide those beautiful fillings.
  • You can cut the carbs. Half the bread means half the carb count.
  • You can get creative. Transform leftover salad makings into a sandwich that's a work of art. 
  • You can use random bits and pieces from the refrigerator. A slice of bacon or a lone carrot can be chopped and shredded to add color, texture and taste to a sandwich. 

For More Recipes