Fill up on 20 great sandwich ideas

MARY-JANE DAFFY
Last updated 12:05 13/02/2013

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Bill Granger cringes to think of the sandwich that was his lunchbox staple as a kid: luncheon sausage, tomato sauce and butter on sliced white bread.

''Isn't that dreadful?'' the celebrated chef and restaurateur says, grinning.

He remembers his Greek friend perching alongside him in the schoolyard devouring crusty-bread sandwiches filled with fried eggplant and tzatziki. ''At the time, I found it so weird. Nowadays, I'd be desperate to swap with him.''

Granger is not alone.

Sandwiches have undergone a sharp makeover in the past decade, going from dreary lunchbox staple to menu hero.

In London, acclaimed chef Mark Hix, who worked under Anton Mosimann at the Dorchester, recently launched FishDog, a vintage street van offering a gourmet take on the fish-finger sandwich.

In Melbourne, Earl Canteen's pork-belly roll, made with crackling-topped pork, coleslaw and wilted silverbeet, has become a cult classic - owners Simon O'Regan and Jackie Middleton estimate they've sold about 35,000.

And in New Zealand, Al Brown's sliders - mini buns stuffed with fresh fish - are the meal of the moment.

Be it school lunches, brown-bagged office lunches, diet-busting weekend blowouts or fancy finger food,  there's a sandwich for every occasion.

Here are 25 ideas to get you started.

1. Fish fingers: ''Knock together a real tartare sauce, visit the local fish-and-chip shop for battered fish and chips, and sandwich it all between some good ciabatta,'' Middleton says.

2. Roast chicken with waldorf salad: As a kid, chef Neil Perry went off to school with brown bread sangers stuffed with sliced tongue, mustard and pickled onion. For office workers, Perry suggests roast chicken with waldorf salad. ''Make sure the waldorf has plenty of great mayonnaise through it and serve it on good, thick-sliced brown bread.''

3. Gorgonzola, pear and walnut on sourdough: Another Perry favourite, it involves dressing pear and walnut with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, and spreading the bread with gorgonzola and a good cultured butter.

4. Vegetable omelet with aioli: A brunch treat, Perry says it's best in a baguette with ''beautiful crunchy iceberg lettuce''.

5. Red pepper salsa, salami and cos lettuce: Fill a good quality baguette with red pepper salsa (made from grilled and peeled red capsicums, capers, red onions, oil and vinegar), salami and cos lettuce.

6. Grilled asparagus, lemon mayonnaise, pecorino and pepper: This combination is wonderful in spring when asparagus is small and sweet.

7. Crisp pancetta, caramelised walnuts, baby celery and mayonnaise: To caramelise walnuts, sprinkle them with brown sugar and soy sauce and bake them for eight to 12 minutes.

8. Fruit bread and cheese: Try fresh goat's cheese, cheddar or gruyere with vinefruit bread and mild blue or goat's cheese with fig bread.

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9. Chopped egg, sweet corn, parmesan shavings and smoked paprika: Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

10. Sliced eye fillet, fried egg, lettuce, cheese and garlic aioli: For that special occasion lunch...

11. Lightly floured and fried calamari in a baguette with thick aioli: A taste of Spain in a sarnie.

12. Poached chicken, strawberry, mint and lemon creme fraiche on ciabatta: Much better at soaking up the champagne than the standard cucumber sandwich.

13. Rosemary, fig jam and brie toastie Guaranteed to get the office kitchen smelling good.

14. Date, apricot, pumpkin seed and cream cheese: For when you need something sweet.

15. Tuna melt with mozzarella and artichoke, topped with parsley and olive salad Giving a simple sandwich a salad boost means Granger can serve it to his daughters for dinner without guilt.

16. Cucumber, smoked salmon, cream cheese and egg on crustless white bread: A traditional afternoon tea wouldn't be complete without these ribbon-cut finger sandwiches, crusts cut off, of course.

17. Iberico jamon and manchego cheese: An upmarket take on the old ham and cheese.

18. Tuna, sweet corn, iceberg lettuce and citrus mayonnaise: Give tuna salad sandwiches a slight twist with zesty mayo and make sure the lettuce is crisp.

19. Roasted pumpkin, goat's cheese, rocket and dukkah It's not just vegetarians who enjoy this filling, McPeake says. It's easy to make but it's packed with flavour.

20. Chocolate and marmalade on sourdough: Put this combo in a toastie machine and you'll never buy a pain au chocolat again.

- Good Food

What's your favourite sandwich filling?

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