My entire philosophy of sandwich construction can be stated in one simple thought: No matter what edibles you've got lurking in the kitchen, they're only moments away from becoming a sandwich of some sort. And with the summer bounty just steps away in your backyard or the nearest farmers market, the options become even more grand and enticing.
Starting with a base of carbohydrate — loosely defined as bread, but more realistically incorporating anything from cracker to croissant to tortilla — the garden yields dozens of possibilities in each season. From vine-ripened tomatoes, cucumbers and golden bell peppers to tender sheets of lettuce, fragrant herbs and exotic eggplant, sandwiches from your garden are healthy and inspirational answers to the question: "What's for dinner?"
The creations first take hold on my imaginary palate, where the flavors, textures and colors of the harvest unite. Then, it's merely a matter of fine-tuning the process back in the kitchen, adding appropriate condiments, cheeses or whatever it takes to round out the offering.
This is what makes the sandwich the perfect summer meal — its adaptability, spontaneity and, in many cases, portability. And I've never underestimated the respectability factor of the sandwich, either. That is, the freedom to legally eat with your fingers and not get sent to your room!
Of course, there are some basic guidelines that encourage successful pairings:
Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist and author of "Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit" and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at email@example.com or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.