Around the holidays, it pays to keep weeknight meals simple, but that doesn’t mean giving up on flavor. Hence this selection of sandwiches from our latest book, Simple, a collection of 200 easy, clever recipes. Starting with an adult version of grilled cheese, we amp up the flavor with briny, spicy kimchi and slices of savory ham. Crushed red peppers add vibrant spice to a panini with mortadella, provolone, and sautéed broccoli rabe. And tangy chimichurri, the vinegary Argentine sauce, balances the richness and fattiness of spicy chorizo.
Kimchi Grilled Cheese With Ham
Makes 4 servings
Spicy, garlicky kimchi ups the umami quotient of the classic grilled cheese. This pairing — cheese and kimchi — is a classic one. Budae jjigae, otherwise known as Army base stew, originated with the Korean War. It’s a hot pot made with American surplus foods, such as hot dogs, baked beans, and instant noodles, along with kimchi and American cheese. These sandwiches aren’t quite as lavish, but they’re indisputably tasty.
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon kimchi juice, plus 1 1/3 cups cabbage kimchi, drained and chopped
8 slices hearty white sandwich bread
8 slices cheddar or pepper Jack or whole-milk mozzarella cheese
4 slices thinly sliced deli ham or 4 slices cooked bacon
In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and kimchi brine. Spread evenly over one side of each slice of bread. Flip 4 of the slices to be mayonnaise side down, then top each with 1 slice of cheese, 1 slice of ham (or bacon, torn to fit), and a quarter of the kimchi. Top each with another slice of cheese, then with another slice of bread, mayonnaise side up. Press the sandwiches to compact the fillings.
Heat a 12-inch nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until droplets of water flicked onto the surface quickly sizzle and evaporate. Add 2 sandwiches and cook until golden brown on the bottoms, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a wide spatula, flip the sandwiches and cook, pressing lightly and adjusting the heat as needed, until they turn golden brown on the second sides and the cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Cook the remaining sandwiches in the same way. Cut each sandwich on the diagonal.
Panini With Mortadella, Provolone, and Broccoli Rabe
Makes 4 servings
The grilled sandwiches that we know today as panini are believed to have originated in the mid-20th century in Italy’s paninoteche (sandwich shops). Panini offer a tantalizing combination of toasted bread, salty meats, and melty cheese. Our panini also include sautéed broccoli rabe, which offers a bitterness to offset the richness of mortadella and provolone while also making these simple sandwiches complete meals. We spread vinegary crushed red peppers on the bread to add piquancy — sometimes labeled as “hoagie spread,” it’s sold jarred in most supermarkets. Chopped peperoncini or cherry peppers would be a good substitute.
Soft sub rolls won’t work. Seek out good, crusty bread with a sturdy, chewy crumb that can stand up to the fillings. Fill the sandwiches assembly line-style to ensure equal distribution of ingredients.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1-pound bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed and chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces
4 8-inch crusty rolls or ciabatta rolls
4 tablespoons jarred crushed red peppers (see headnote), divided
8 ounces sliced provolone cheese, preferably aged provolone, slices cut in half
8 ounces sliced mortadella
In a 12-inch skillet set over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil until it shimmers. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the cloves begin to brown, about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli rabe and ½ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring, until just starting to soften, about 1 minute. Add ¼ cup water, then cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the stem pieces are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic, then transfer the rabe to a medium bowl; set aside. Wipe out the skillet and set it aside.
Split each roll horizontally, leaving one side hinged. If the rolls are very thick, pull out and discard some of the crumb so the bread is about ½ inch thick. Spread 1 tablespoon of crushed peppers on the inside of the top half of each roll. Top the other side with the broccoli rabe, dividing it evenly. Lay half of the provolone on the rabe, dividing it evenly. Top the cheese with the mortadella, then finish with the remaining provolone. Close the rolls and press firmly.
In the same skillet set over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil until it shimmers. Add 2 panini, weight them with a heavy skillet or pot, then cook until the bottoms are nicely toasted, 2 to 3 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed if the bread is browning too quickly. Flip the panini, replace the weight, and cook until the second sides are toasted and the cheese begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Using the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, toast the remaining 2 panini the same way. To serve, cut the panini in half on the diagonal.
Chorizo and Chimichurri Sandwiches
Makes 4 servings
Inspired by Argentinian choripán, this sandwich stars boldly spiced chorizo and chimichurri, Argentina’s signature sauce. It’s essential to use fresh Mexican-style chorizo, which is raw and made with ground pork, as opposed to the Spanish dry-cured or smoked variety; make sure it is link-style chorizo in natural casing.
To help the sandwiches remain intact when eaten, we cut a baguette into four sections, then slice through lengthwise on one side, creating a hinged shape reminiscent of a hot dog bun.
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley or a combination, finely chopped
1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 baguette, cut into 4 sections, split horizontally, kept hinged on one side
4 links Mexican-style chorizo (see headnote), split horizontally, kept hinged on one side
Thinly sliced avocado or sliced tomato or mayonnaise or a combination
To make the chimichurri, in a small bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons oil, and the vinegar, cilantro, garlic, pepper flakes, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper; set aside.
Brush 3 tablespoons of the remaining oil onto the insides of the bread. Warm a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until droplets of water flicked onto the surface sizzle. Toast one bread section at a time, cut side down, until lightly golden, about 1 minute; remove from the pan and set aside.
In the same skillet set over medium, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until it shimmers. Cook the sausages, cut sides down, until browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the sausages and cook, turning as needed, until well browned on both sides and the centers reach 160 degrees, another 4 to 6 minutes.
Place a sausage on each piece of baguette. Stir the chimichurri to recombine, then spoon it onto the sausages. Close the sandwiches, add the garnishes (if using), and serve.
Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to email@example.com.