MY FIRST memories of sandwiches are of warm, crisp, buttery brown triangles of white or whole-wheat bread filled with delectable melted yellow cheese.

As Mother taught me, it was always about the ingredients, not complexity; freshness and contrasts, not quantity. But it was also about generosity.

Increasingly, local vendors and grocers are stocking high-quality, imported cold cuts and cheeses. If I plan to serve a panini lunch, a good panini iron is ideal, but two cast-iron pans - one for cooking, one for pressing - also work well.The more I think about sandwiches, the hungrier I become.

More sandwich recipes are available at martha-sandwiches.


2 loaves ciabatta, halved

horizontally and quartered


1 loaf whole-grain bread, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick

Pesto (recipe follows)

Olive Tapenade (recipe follows)

1/2 pound each thinly sliced

soppressata, prosciutto,

bresaola and coppa

1/2 pound each thinly sliced smoked mozzarella, fresh mozzarella,

provolone, fontina and ricotta cheeses

2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 head radicchio, leaves separated

1 bunch fresh basil

1 jar (3 ounces) best-quality


1 bunch fresh oregano

Lemon wedges, for squeezing

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Set out ingredients for guests to build panini. Heat a panini press. Brush each sandwich with oil, and place in press. Grill according to manufacturer's instructions.

Alternatively, heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Place a sandwich in skillet, and top with a smaller heavy skillet. Cook, flipping once, until bread is golden brown and cheese melts, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to oven to keep warm. Repeat. Serves 10 to 12.


3 cups packed fresh basil, torn into pieces

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 garlic cloves

Coarse salt

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground pepper

Puree basil, nuts, garlic and 1/2-teaspoon salt in a food processor. With machine running, slowly add oil, and process until smooth. Stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate up to 1 day. Makes 1 cup.


2 cups black olives, such as Kalamata, pitted

4 anchovy fillets

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 garlic clove

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Pulse olives, anchovies, parsley and garlic in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Stir in oil. Cover, and refrigerate up to 3 days. Makes 1 1/4 cups.


3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon creme fraiche

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

1 tablespoon minced chives

Freshly ground peppercorns,

preferably pink

8 ounces lump crabmeat

4 leaves red-leaf lettuce

1 avocado, thinly sliced

8 slices brioche, toasted

Mix lemon juice, salt, creme fraiche, shallot and chives. Season with pepper. Fold in crab. Cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Divide lettuce, avocado and crab among 4 bread slices. Sandwich with remaining slices. Makes 4 sandwiches.

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