Peanut Butter and Banana
I have to admit I've never been big on brown bag sandwiches. After sitting in my locker for six hours, the bread would always get soggy with the filling and turn into a gloppy mess. The worst offender was the tomato slice. To this day I can't stand the smell of bread that's been soaked through with tomato juices. (But thanks for making all those sandwiches, Mom! I still love your potato salad, just not in sandwich form!) Nowadays, if I'm making a sandwich that needs to hold up for several hours and I don't want to assemble it when I eat it, I go for peanut butter and bananas. I loooove peanut butter and banana sandwiches, especially with a drizzle of honey. —Christine Tsai
Prosciutto, Mozzarella, and Basil on Pizza Bianca
I don't know how many times I've been quoted on Serious Eats saying this, but here goes again. Everything's better when pizza bianca is involved. The light, airy, hand-formed flatbread is porous and bubbly with a silky crumb, accented with just enough olive oil, coarse sea salt, and rosemary. I like to cut mine open and layer it with prosciutto and mozzarella on one side, then put it under the broiler. Not too long though—you don't want it to incinerate. Add the fresh basil after it comes out. Though I love Di Palo's fresh mozzarella, you'll get away with using a less righteous mozzarella in this case. Melted mozzarella is much more forgiving. —Ed Levine
Depends If Tomatoes Are in Season!
When I was a kid, my favorite sandwich was a fluffernutter with banana and chocolate syrup. The height of decliciousness and nutritiousness.
These days, I prefer to bring ingredients separately and assemble my sandwiches just before eating if it's gonna have to sit for more than an hour or so. My standard picnic fare is some good bread, some great creamy cheese or perhaps a little container of homemade mayo, and a great tomato if they're in season (which I'll pack along with a little packet of crunchy sea salt). If I can't get the tomatoes, I'll settle for some good saucisson sec or perhaps some thin sliced prosciutto. In fact, I'd probably go for that in addition to the tomatoes. My sister gave me an awesome tiny-but-heavy-duty cutting board which I bring along with a knife. Elaborate? Maybe. Delicious? Certainly. —J.Kenji Lopez-Alt
Turkey and Monterey Jack on Baguette
I have to admit that I rarely pack sandwiches for lunch. I'm a leftovers gal, and tupper ware is the saving grace to my inability to scale dinners down for one. However there is one sandwich that I find myself eating time after time, and that's this one. The bread choice varies with what I have on hand, but ideally I start with about 6 inches of a fresh french baguette. The first layer is thinly sliced turkey, followed by medium thick cut tomatoes. It's important that the tomatoes are sandwiched between the turkey and the Monterey Jack cheese so the bread doesn't get soggy. Similarly, I like putting my condiments- a 50/50 mix of mayo and Dijon mustard- between two pieces of cheese. Finally, a sprinkling of baby spinach, because I always have some on hand. It's a pretty solid sandwich; nothing fancy, a little spicy, and totally sogg-free. —Carrie Vasios
I don't have a favorite sandwich to pack in a sack lunch, but I could tell you about the most memorable sandwich my mom made for me during elementary school, not so much because I liked it, but because she
made it a lot: a semi-scrambled egg sandwich. My mom's cooking technique was to partially scramble the egg while frying it in the pan, not whisk the egg beforehand, resulting in an uneven white and yellow-streaked egg patty. Since she was a bit of a health nut (and I'm grateful for that or else I would've been a much less healthy child), she'd put it on some kind of unpleasantly hearty whole wheat bread that no child could ever love and whose flavor overpowered the egg. During the hours leading up to lunch time, the sandwich would cool down and become soggy after steaming in its plastic sandwich
baggie. I didn't love or hate it at the time; I tolerated it because I love my mom and I understood that she showed her love through whole wheat bread.
I pretty much ignored scrambled egg sandwiches until I got to college and, after eating at some Hong Kong diner-style restaurants, realized they're a helluva lot better when they're fresh and made with
pillowy soft white bread fresh from a Chinese bakery. —Robyn Lee
Smashed Avocado on Whole-Wheat (Sardines Too, Sometimes)
What can I say, I'm a walking California stereotype. I love my avocado. It's buttery, fatty, and substantial enough that you won't even miss the meat or other traditional sandwich fillings. Spoon out a half, smoosh it with salt and pepper on a bread slice—which I like toasting even if it'll be sitting in a brown bag for a few hours—and swipe some grainy mustard on the other half. Though it wasn't acceptable in the elementary school days (the stink would surely lead to classroom scorn), I've since liked to layer on oily anchovies too. Alton Brown approves. —Erin Zimmer
Smoked Turkey on Dutch Crunch
I was lucky enough to have a great school cafeteria (yes, such things exist) and as such never really packed lunches. But once in awhile I'd sneak down the road for my favorite sandwich of all, about as Northern Californian as you can get: smoked turkey on Dutch Crunch from Palo Alto institution Village Cheese House. The shop had a vaguely Northern European bent, and Gouda always seemed like the right cheese choice; that and the turkey were backed up by a mayo-mustard-relish mix that's the right mix of tangy and creamy. But the Dutch Crunch bread, of course, is the best part: pillowy and sweet in the middle, rough enough to shred your mouth on top, and totally worth the pain. This sandwich still tastes like school lunch to me. —Carey Jones
Ham and Cheese
This has been my sandwich steady for as long back as I can remember: ham and cheese on white with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. I'm not real particular about the cheese; American is fine by me, just no Swiss, please. The ham, however, matters more. It's gotta be thin sliced Virginia, though Black Forest will do in a pinch. For packing purposes I keep the lettuce and tomato separate, only to be applied before eating so that the tomato and lettuce are at the top of their game. The most crucial element is that the tomato has full mayo contact. I have always favored this combot on white, be it a baguette or squishy sliced sandwich bread. —Meredith Smith
PB&J Was Pretty Typical
HMMM this is tough. Well my mom made me a sandwich for lunch nearly every day until I was approximately 18 years old, which I think is...pretty much the norm, no? Mostly PB&J and turkey. The best days were when I would find a sizable salami sandwich on a poppyseed deli roll with lettuce and mustard. MAN those were tasty. Not my favorite sandwich in the world, but back in the day, that was the top. —Leandra Palermo
Prosciutto on Toast
I'm a little wary of packaged cold cuts—never did like turkey or bologna. But prosciutto on toast makes me happy, ideally with a ball of fresh mozzarella to slice or tear and add to the sandwich at the last minute. Lately I've been buying the La Quercia prosciutto, and it's really nice, flavorful and a little gamey. —Maggie Hoffman