Pinwheel sandwiches, a new spin on school lunch

Pinwheel sandwiches are easy to pack in school Pinwheel sandwiches are easy to pack in school lunches. (Aug. 13, 2013) Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

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Lauren Chattman

Lauren Chattman is a cookbook author, freelance writer and former professional pastry chef. Her recipes have appeared in ...

If you are once again tearing your hair out trying to come up with something new and appealing to pack in your kids' lunchboxes, consider pinwheel sandwiches. Pinwheels are essentially wrap sandwiches, with fillings rolled tightly inside tortillas or slices of bread and then cut into small rounds that are perfect for little hands.

Not only are pinwheels delightfully cute, but they also are convenient. To hold their shape, they are refrigerated for at least 30 minutes or, preferably, overnight. This means you can make them before bed and wake up knowing you have one less thing to do before getting your kids to the bus stop in the morning.

Pinwheels are no more difficult to make than conventional sandwiches. For best results, follow these simple rules:

Flatbreads are best. Flatbreads, such as lavash or tortillas, are easiest to roll. But if your child will eat only white bread, simply cut off the crusts and flatten with a rolling pin before proceeding.

Start with a spread. A little butter, mayonnaise, soft cheese or salad dressing spread over the bread will keep the sandwich moist and help it stay rolled up.

Keep it simple. A spread, a slice or two of deli meat and maybe some lettuce or tomato is all you need to make a pinwheel sandwich. Overfilling your sandwich may cause it to unroll. And most kids prefer a straightforward combination of no more than two or three ingredients anyway.

Wrap and refrigerate. Construct your sandwich on top of a piece of plastic, then use the plastic to wrap the sandwich tightly. This way, you don't have to pick up your sandwich and transfer it to a piece of plastic wrap, so there's no risk it will fall apart during the transfer.

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ROAST BEEF, BABY SPINACH AND RANCH DRESSING PINWHEELS

2 tablespoons cream cheese

2 tablespoons ranch dressing

1 (7-inch) flour tortilla

2 thin slices roast beef

1/4 cup baby spinach leaves

1. Stir cream cheese and dressing together until smooth. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of a cutting board. Lay the tortilla flat on the plastic wrap. Spread cream cheese mixture over tortilla in an even layer. Lay roast beef slices over cheese. Arrange spinach over roast beef. Roll into a tight cylinder. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

2. Unwrap and slice into 4 pinwheels. Rewrap together in plastic and pack in lunchbox.

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HAM-AND-GOAT CHEESE PINWHEELS

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Combining the goat cheese with a little yogurt makes the cheese more spreadable.

1 (7-inch) whole-grain flatbread

1/4 cup goat cheese or cream cheese

1 tablespoon plain yogurt

2 thin slices deli ham

1. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of a cutting board. Lay the flatbread flat on the plastic wrap. Blend goat cheese and yogurt together until smooth and spread in an even layer over flatbread. Lay ham slices over cheese. Roll into a tight cylinder. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

2. Unwrap and slice into 4 or 5 pinwheels. Rewrap together in plastic and pack in lunchbox.

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HUMMUS, CUCUMBER AND CARROT PINWHEELS

1 (7-inch) flatbread

1/4 cup hummus

1/2 carrot, shredded

1/3 cup peeled and thinly sliced cucumber

1. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of a cutting board. Lay the flatbread flat on the plastic wrap. Spread hummus over flatbread in an even layer. Lay carrot and cucumber over hummus. Roll into a tight cylinder. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

2. Unwrap and slice into 1/2-inch pinwheels. Rewrap together in plastic and pack in lunchbox.

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NECTARINE AND SMOKED-CHICKEN PINWHEELS

In the winter, substitute mango for the nectarine.

2 slices rye bread, crusts removed

2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

2 thin slices smoked chicken or turkey slices

3 or 4 thin slices nectarine

1. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of a cutting board. Lay the bread slices flat on the plastic wrap and roll over several times with a rolling pin to flatten. Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise over each slice of bread. Lay chicken or turkey slices over mayonnaise. Lay nectarine slices over meat. Roll into tight cylinders. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

2. Unwrap and slice each roll into 2 to 3 pieces. Rewrap together in plastic and pack in lunchbox.

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PEANUT BUTTER, BANANA AND JAM PINWHEELS

2 slices white or whole-wheat bread, crusts removed

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons jam

1/2 small banana, thinly sliced

1. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of a cutting board. Lay the bread slices flat on the plastic wrap and roll over several times with a rolling pin to flatten. Spread 1 tablespoon peanut butter and 1 tablespoon jam over each slice of bread. Arrange banana slices over jam. Roll into tight cylinders. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

2. Unwrap and slice each roll into 3 pieces. Rewrap together in plastic and pack in lunchbox.

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TURKEY AND PESTO PINWHEELS

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1 (7-inch) whole-grain flatbread

1 tablespoon pesto sauce

2 thin slices deli turkey

3 thin slices tomato

1. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of a cutting board. Lay the flatbread flat on the plastic wrap. Spread pesto over flatbread. Lay turkey slices over pesto. Lay tomato slices over turkey. Roll into a tight cylinder. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours

2. Unwrap and slice into 4 or 5 pinwheels. Rewrap together in plastic and pack in lunchbox.

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