The Best Sandwiches Should Surprise You

Konbi’s egg salad sandwich, vegetarian Reuben and more recipes.

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By Melissa Clark

My mother always said that a good sandwich should be like a scintillating conversation: packed with tasty morsels that constantly surprise you. In the same way that a skilled raconteur keeps you on your toes, the next bite of a great sandwich should always be somewhat unexpected. Is that a touch of scallion, crème fraîche and Kewpie mayo in the egg salad (above)? Some potato chips adding crunch to tuna salad on a ciabatta roll? 

Ali Slagle’s new vegetarian Reuben is exactly the kind of sandwich my mother adores, with sauerkraut for tang, melted cheese for the gooey factor and pickles and hot sauce for punch. Each bite is a little different depending on how the ingredients fall when you bite in.

Here at New York Times Cooking, we also have an important bulletin from the vast and wonderful world of rice and beans: Kayla Stewart has adapted Louis Armstrong’s recipe for red beans and rice for us, which accompanies her terrific article for The Times about Camellia beans and their significance in New Orleans.

Although traditionally served on Mondays, that dish is just as satisfying any day of the week. So maybe start soaking your red beans tonight?

Now, in my mother’s kitchen, anything that she could squish between a toasted English muffin was fair sandwich fodder. But Kay Chun’s cheesy chicken meatballs with Parmesan — excellent stuffed into a crunchy semolina loaf — are just as good over pasta or polenta.

Perhaps you’d prefer a hearty chicken soup with pastina, a creamy fish chowder with potatoes and cod, or a diner-worthy tomato soup? Though they all taste better with a classic grilled cheese sandwich for dunking, that’s up to you.

Or try breakfast for dinner, depending on how things roll in your household, and make Genevieve Ko’s speedy and almost impossibly fluffy ricotta lemon pancakes with blueberry syrup, or Klancy Miller’s orange cardamom pancakes, so crisp-edged and fragrant.

Dessert could be another kind of pancake: Judy Joo’s golden hotteok with a yeast-risen batter surrounding a muscovado sugar and peanut filling. They do require some advance planning, but they’re worth the rising time for their lovely crisp-chewy texture.

One thing to keep in mind: You’ll need to subscribe to get the recipes. (For a limited time, you can save on all of The Times’s subscriptions, including Cooking, during our All Access sale.) We are also on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, where Ali Slagle shows you how to make grilled cheese on a sheet pan. It’s a brilliant maneuver when you’re cooking for more than one or two.

If you bump into any technical problems, you can send an email to [email protected] for help. And if you want to get in touch with me directly, I’m at hellomeliss[email protected] I can’t answer them all, but I love reading your notes.

Sam is back on Friday, and I’ll see you on Monday. To borrow from the great Louis Armstrong, I’ll always be Red Beans and Ricely Yours, Melissa.

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