Traveling the world through cuisine

The Special Sauces

Panini

Yes, I know the title sounds a bit perverse, but it’s my blog and I can have fun with you any way I choose.

So you’ve been out at that little cafe or restaurant one day, and see a selection of yummy paninis and sandwiches on the menu with ingredients you normally don’t have sitting at home in your refrigerator, and wonder where one can get them.

You hit up the grocery store, or even seek out one of those smaller Polish, German, or Italian delis in your neck of the woods, but while you see loads of options for meats, cheeses, and breads, you still are missing one piece that makes those cafes and restaurants stand out – condiments.

This was my story. I wanted to make some paninis at home, but found my combos of meat and cheese were coming out just “ok” with the usual choices of mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, and barbecue sauce. Salad dressings became a bit messy as they don’t have the consistency of normal condiments.

Doing some tasting and research, I found that the base for most of these sandwich sauces and condiments is mayonnaise.  Basically it’s all mayonnaise with flavorings. This is a good thing because not only does it give you a very wide range of possibilities for sauces, but you can even get healthier by using fat-free or reduced-fat mayonnaise.

Here’s two sandwich sauces I concocted based on many sandwiches and paninis I’ve had when out:

Chipotle Sandwich Sauce

Chipotle Sandwich Sauce

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces of mayonnaise
  • 1 (7 ounce) can of chipotle salsa
  • 2 ounces of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp of granulated garlic
  • 1 ounce of lime juice

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Stir thoroughly until the sauce is a unified shade of pink and everything is together.
  3. Store in the refrigerator.

Quick Notes

This is really the recipe for Subway’s Chipotle Southwest Sauce. Variations of the recipe have been floating around the internet. In mine I use more garlic because it gives the sauce a nice robust flavor, so you’re not just tasting spicy peppers.

Be sure to use the small cans of chipotle salsa you usually find in the Spanish food section of the grocery store. Do not use some jarred salsa meant for dipping chips into. The 7-ounce can is ideal for this recipe and it’s more concentrated. A jar of “chipotle salsa” meant for chip-dipping might turn the mixture too watery.

I use granulated garlic over fresh garlic because I want the garlic to dissolve into the mix. If you are adamant on using fresh garlic, then at least put it through a garlic press or chop it to bits in a food processor.

Variations

I’ve seen variations that do not use garlic, and some that use fresh garlic.

If it’s not hot enough for you then add some chili powder and/or some cayenne pepper. Just be sure to add small amounts and taste as you go.

You can use the canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce instead of the salsa. Just chop them up into bits or put them through a food processor to puree them. I would advise the salsa though if you’re looking to put them into squeeze bottles like I did. Believe me, you will get pieces of pepper stuck in the nozzle and have a hard time squeezing it out.

Healthy It Up

I generally like to use fat-free mayonnaise. It's entirely up to you, but with the other flavors mixed in you won't notice the difference between full-fat or fat-free.

If you’re trying to stay away from mayonnaise altogether, you can also try it with soft tofu, but you might want to add salt to catch the flavor up to mayonnaise.

Pesto Sandwich Sauce

Pesto Sandwich Sauce

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces of mayonnaise
  • 3/4 ounce of dried basil
  • 2 tbsp of granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Stir thoroughly until the sauce is a unified shade of pink and everything is together.
  3. Store in the refrigerator.

Quick Notes

My use of dried herbs is partially because of how inexpensive they are, but also because I wanted to put this sauce in a squeeze bottle. Thus unlike a normal pesto, I wanted the ingredients to be dry and small so the resulting sauce isn’t too liquid.

I did try this recipe in the past with a small jar of pesto from the Italian food section. The result was too liquefied and it would run out of the sandwich.

Variations

I used to do it without the Parmesan cheese and olive oil and it tasted just wonderfully, but I found the addition of the two ingredients made it taste that much more closer to a real pesto sauce you would find on pasta.

If you’re all about fresh herbs, then go for it. Just be sure to hit them hard in the food processor so they are chopped down enough. That or don’t use a squeeze bottle and simply place it all into a container you can spoon out of.

Healthy It Up

I generally like to use fat-free mayonnaise. It's entirely up to you, but with the other flavors mixed in you won't notice the difference between full-fat or fat-free.

If you’re trying to stay away from mayonnaise altogether, you can also try it with soft tofu, but you might want to add salt to catch the flavor up to mayonnaise.

Tags: condiments, Italian, Mexican, sandwich, sauce, spicy

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