Put A Sweet Spin On Savory Sandwiches With Fresh Fruit

While America's favorite sandwich filling is grilled cheese according to 2019 YouGov data, an earlier survey found that the ingredient most likely to be featured in any given sandwich is lettuce. Other top ingredients also of a vegetative nature include tomatoes, onions, and brine-preserved cucumbers (aka pickles). Notably absent from this list is any type of fruit (or at least not anything we tend to think of as fruit), yet Rodger Bowser, head chef at the Michigan institution known as Zingerman's Deli, has high praise for this underrated ingredient.

As Bowser tells Mashed, "We are fortunate in Michigan to have a lot of fresh fruit to choose from all summer long at our farmers markets or u-pick farms and fruit definitely makes a great addition to your sandwiches." One simple idea he offers involves little more than cutting up the fruit: "You could slice fresh peaches and apples to stack inside your sandwich along with roasted turkey and your favorite cheese." You could also use sliced apples or even smashed blackberries to make an amazing grilled cheese sandwich or go full-on Elvis by recreating the King's favorite peanut butter and banana sandwich (piled with slices of bacon, of course).

Fruit can also be showcased in more unexpected ways

Some of Rodger Bowser's suggestions involve either cooking fresh fruit or turning it into a condiment of some sort. One easy way to do so, he says, is to "Add mashed berries to a vinaigrette or make a simple jam as a sandwich topping." If you feel like firing up the outdoor barbecue, the Zingerman's head chef suggests that "Grilled pineapple works well with ham or roasted pork," or you could also try this tropical fruit on a chicken sandwich or burger. If you really feel like getting fancy, you could always get some quinces and use them to make the Spanish paste known as membrillo, which Bowser says would go great in a manchego cheese sandwich.

Of course, you may already be using fruit in your sandwiches unbeknownst to you. One final point that Bowser made on the subject? "Don't forget that tomatoes are a fruit." Come to think of it, so are avocados, bell peppers, and cucumbers. In fact, there's a chance that next time you order a veggie sub, what you'll really be chowing down on is basically a bread roll full of fruit!