Perfect Sandwich, Soup and Salad Pairings

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Can’t we all just get along? Soups, salads and sandwiches are meant to be together. Springtime fresh leeks, greens and herbs pair with just about everything. The suggestions in this story are designed to bring together some old standbys, seasonal stars and a few new culinary friends.

Fried Bologna Cuban Sandwich and Springtime Slaw

The popular Cuban sandwich picks up a twang when the traditional pork is swapped for fried bologna. This Fried Bologna Cuban Sandwich is paired with Springtime Slaw for a fresh crunch. Though there is some controversy over whether salami belongs on the Cuban, I decided to include it to round out the flavor. This version is a salute to the escaped convicts who stopped at a country quick stop outside of Jackson to get fried bologna sandwiches. They got caught on security cameras and were sent back to the slammer the same day. Bologna is so good that people take risks for it.

Potato Leek Soup and Wedge Salad

Leeks are one of our early bird crops. Ramps, or wild leeks, are their country cousin and have held sway in East Tennessee for a very long time. Tennessee comes in a close second to West Virginia for the number of wild ramp festivals in the spring. They share some family traits, and one is as good as the other in this recipe. Just keep in mind that ramps are generally smaller than leeks. They both whisper, instead of yelling, “We are members of the onion family!” They have gentle ways of making themselves known. Like their friend the potato, they mature quietly under ground. They seem to be sending a message to each other: “Let’s ripen at the same time and work together to make beautiful dishes.”

Early potatoes are showing up at the markets. They are just so pretty in their multi-colored jackets of red, purple, blue, tan and gold. This lighter version of Potato Leek Soup can handle the heft of bacon, blue cheese and chopped eggs in a Crisp Wedge Salad.

Grilled Goat Cheese and Mixed Green Salad

Why goat cheese? Well, it’s locally available all over the state. It’s packed with flavor. It melts like a dream. And Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches taste delicious with a Mixed Green Salad With Figs. Grilled cheese has taken on so many forms over the past few years. Even grilled cheese doughnuts are on the menu at trendy establishments. It might seem outlandish, but I argue that melted cheese is good even when served on a shoe. Though, rye bread is preferable.

Faux Pho and Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Pho hit the charts as a top food for 2017. Sorry to be so “last year,” but this ancient dish has survived for a very long time. Pho is a Vietnamese soup that consists of broth, rice noodles, herbs and beef. It has evolved and changed to sometimes include chicken, tofu and vegetables. The Faux Pho I present here is intended to be super easy to prepare. Authentic pho takes many hours of careful cooking, but history shows that it has survived a bit of tampering. This shortcut version is also delicious. Because the rice noodles already offer a starch in the soup, it seemed fitting to use some fresh greens in the Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps, which are packed with fresh herbs. Each bite sings, “It’s springtime, and I love everybody!”

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