The Improvisational Sandwich


Cookie Monster seems shocked that the pantry is stocked with items other than cookies (

Believe it or not, some people actually require instructions for improv. The rule to live by today: you should always keep your pantry well stocked. Why? When you are driving home from work, one or more of the following might occur to you:

1) You have more options in your wine rack than you do in your refrigerator.

2) You don’t want to stop and pick something up because “you’re trying to save money” (yeah, you can refer to my post, Love on the Rocks, for more elaboration on that particular quote).

3) You’re hungry (like crazy-hell-bitch-on-wheels-hungry) because you spent more than half of your day relocating your office and that giant bagel smothered in maple pecan cream cheese and the Starbucks Caramel Macchiato just didn’t cut it. You simply cannot delay food-to-face interaction any longer.

By stocking the pantry, I mean that you need to start your own little food-drive for yourself and stock up on the basics and canned goods. While I generally cook with the fresh stuff as much as possible (canned gets a bad reputation for sodium content), I do like to stock the pantry with the following items because they are super handy in a pinch:

– dried carbs & legumes (everything from rice, pasta, quinoa, to lentils)

– canned legumes, tuna  & brined items (every bean in the Goya section, olives, capers, pickles/relish, artichoke hearts, and oddities like Moroccan lemons)

– a veritable plethora of spices & condiments (everything from sweet to savory)

– a nice mix of frozen veggies – they are handy, healthy and great for icing minor injuries

I also like to have a few nice, crusty rolls in the freezer. I used my last one for this so I guess I’ll need to go shopping again.

You’re an adult. I shouldn’t have to tell you what to buy at the store or how to make a sandwich, but this one was an extra-yummy happenstance worth sharing and repeating on purpose.

Lady Sensory’s Improvisational Open-Faced Tuna Melt

(Serves one clearly single individual who can get away with eating this for dinner. If serving others, simply multiply your roll quantities by people, but the sandwich contents could really serve two.)

1 thick crusty roll – my old faithful is the Rosemary-Olive Oil one at Wegmans, but you can use a crusty Italian, sourdough or even a whole wheat roll

1 can of tuna in water, drained (I used the solid white albacore, but use whatever you like or have handy)

1-2 tbsp mayonnaise (depending on how much mayo you like in your tuna salad)

1 can of artichoke hearts in brine, rinsed, drained, and sliced into quarters

1 tomato or 3-4 baby heirloom or cherry ones, sliced and slightly seeded (and I bet you could soften up some sun-dried tomatoes if you don’t have fresh tomatoes in the house)

Salt & pepper to taste

Several slices of Swiss or Gruyère Cheese (about 1 or 2 oz)

* I didn’t do this but wish I had, and will totally do it next time – 1-2 tsp Dijon mustard

Move your oven rack up to the highest level, place a piece of foil on the rack (about 8-9″, depending on the size of your roll) and turn on your broiler. Slice your crusty roll in half. Slather on the Dijon mustard. In a bowl, mix one can of drained tuna, mayo, artichoke hearts, salt & pepper. Place half of this mixture onto one half of your sliced roll. If it’s just for you, save half for tomorrow. You will probably eat it… unless you have a hot dinner date planned or something. Top with tomato slices, then top with cheese. Place the half topped with all the good stuff under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes, then put the other half of the roll under the broiler for another 2 minutes (the non-covered half is going to toast up quickly so it requires less time under the broiler).  This could take even less time if your broiler is toasty – keep an eye on these babies so they don’t burn.  This part totally reminds me of the Williams-Sonoma recipes for kids that instruct you to get an adult to help with the oven.  I think these very simplified recipes for children could also be useful for drunk people – a multi-use document, if you will.  I digress.  Once the cheese starts to bubble, you are good to go. Remove the halves from the broiler with a flipper/spatula and place on a plate, open-faced, or top with the other half of the roll like a regular sandwich. You can cut it in half if you like.  I’d show you a picture of my delicious sandwich but it’s already gone.

Instead, I’ll show you three red wines you might like to enjoy with the improvisational sandwich (or on their own, since they are all quite nice). I haven’t talked too much about wine on here and I think it’s time I do so. Bear in mind, these bottles are more attractive when they are filled with delicious red yumminess, but who buys wine for display? Not I!

Three not-so-run-of-the-mill reds to try. And a fancy glass...and a cute ladybug timer for when you cook your sandwich.


The wine on the left is Katarzyna Question Mark and it’s a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon & 20 % Merlot. It’s Hungarian and it’s excellent. It’s dry, smooth with notes of plum, chocolate and a pinch of pepper. I paid about $34 for it at a local wine bar called Flight. I’m in the process of trying to locate some at a lower price so I can stock up.  The wine in the middle is a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo made by Cantina Zaccagnini. As a marketing person, I’m a sucker for cute packaging and the handwritten look on the label complete with a grapevine twig tied to the bottle with the raffia totally sold me. Thankfully, this wine was not only tasty but reasonably priced. For about $11-$14 you can get a delicious,  red wine with notes of ripe cherries, violet, slight hints of wood and acidity and tannins that finishes soft and dry. It pairs well with steak, pasta or anything with tomatoes and would make a lovely hostess gift since it’s already packaged nicely. The wine on the right is from a somewhat local winery, Inspire Moore (formerly Imagine Moore), in Naples, New York. I normally go for their dry white wines, but this is a red called Change Reserve and it’s a Blaufrankisch in limited release being sold for around $30-$32. Blaufrankisch is a grape typically grown in Austria (it’s also known as Lemberger) but you can find a few wineries in the Finger Lakes area that produce it. I’d describe it as a spicy red, kind of similar to my favorite, Pinot Noir. I get some mellow acidity up front followed by vanilla on the finish (they age this in oak barrels) and I detect cherries/berries, but Inspire Moore describes the fruit notes as cassis. I’ll bow to their expertise. If you are ever in the area, it’s a great small winery to visit and they have a little restaurant, Roots Cafe, which sometimes features live music. Perhaps I should stock my pantry with some black currants to get a better grasp of that cassis note, or I could just buy more Blaufrankisch wine. Hmmmmm…decisions….


3 thoughts on “The Improvisational Sandwich

  1. bethie

    i’m drooling. yum. don’t forget the evil bpa in cans too. Eden brand doesn’t line their cans with BPA (but you pay for it, worth it tho) and i’ve found out that you can cook beans from dry when you have time, then freeze them and they come out great to use wheneever you need them with none of the sodium or bpa. Go lady sensory go!

    • I knew you would love this sandwich – I was thinking about ya because of the ‘chokes. I prefer rehydrating dry beans if I have the time, but can’t beat the convenience of an occasional can. I think you can get the artichokes in jars (like capers & olives) which would cut down on that BPA. I’ll have to poke around the organic section for Eden. 🙂

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