Season the Lettuce on Your Next Sandwich, You Coward

Season the Lettuce on Your Next Sandwich, You Coward

One of the easiest ways to see if someone understands food is to ask them to make you a sandwich. A good sandwich is a balance of flavours and textures, and the best ones are made by people who have a good grasp on both. A sandwich is more than layers of meat and cheese between two slices of bread — it’s a holistic package of ingredients, tastes, and mouth feelings.

Each component of a sandwich should be carefully considered: Would the fillings of this sandwich be best served by a piece of seedy toast? Or would a soft roll be a better platform? Are the cured meats providing enough seasoning for the dish as a whole, or do you need an extra pinch of salt, and perhaps a little pepper? Where are we with acid levels? These are all questions you should consider when making a sandwich, but there is one component that often gets overlooked.

Out of all the things you can put on a sandwich, lettuce is one of the least considered by many. Whereas I think about sandwich lettuce a lot. I love a shredduce situation — though recently I’ve been into lettuce planks — and I can even fuck with slightly bitter spinach or very bitter radicchio if the sandwich calls for it. But one thing I will not let stand is unseasoned, unconsidered lettuce.

Lettuce’s primarily role in a sandwich is to provide texture and, to a lesser extent, nutrition, but that grippy, textured nature is what makes it such a good vehicle for more flavour. Think of it this way: Would you eat a salad without dressing? No. You wouldn’t. (Unless you have some real textural issues, in which case, my condolences.) Think of your sandwich greens like you would salad greens, and take a moment to make a little high-acid vinaigrette, or at least toss the leaves with some fresh lemon juice or perhaps a little red wine vinegar.

Then sprinkle on a little salt, grind on some fresh pepper, and maybe — if you’re making an Italian sub — add a few pinches of oregano. I’ve even been known to season my sandwich lettuce with MSG, if I’m going for an all-out savoury vibe. Just don’t neglect the lettuce entirely. It deserves to be considered.

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