Peanut butter, honey and bananas on white whole wheat bread...

Peanut butter, honey and bananas on white whole wheat bread puts a delicious spin on the classic -- but sometimes boring -- PB&J. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

When it comes to lunch sandwiches, children are creatures of habit. But it's the rare child who doesn't crave a little variation now and then. The hidebound peanut-butter partisan might accept apple butter in place of grape jelly. The turkey devotee might appreciate a slice of avocado. The tuna exponent might go for a wrap instead of a traditional sandwich.

For the start of school, 2010, we sought sandwich-shaking-up advice from three Long Island lunch-making parents who are also professional chefs.

Talkin' turkey

Turkey is the go-to sandwich meat in Lauren Chattman's Sag Harbor kitchen. A Newsday columnist, Chattman is the author of many cookbooks including "Cake Keeper Cakes" (Taunton, $17.95), "Panini Express" (Taunton, $18.95) and the upcoming "Cookie Swap!" (Workman, $14.95). Chattman's daughters Eve and Rose bring their lunch to school every day, and that means that their mother "is making sandwiches every morning."

"What's great about turkey," Chattman said, "is that it's so bland, it pairs well with other things," particularly cheese or another, saltier meat.

While she usually does not cook her own turkey, Chattman insists that it be roasted in the store she buys it from. "Otherwise it has this slimy texture," she said, "and doesn't seem entirely like meat."



In this sandwich, a little bit of salty cured meat raises the turkey to hero level. A hearty bread, such as this focaccia roll, is crucial here so that the sandwich can stand up to the dressing.

Focaccia roll or panino roll

Lettuce or baby spinach

3 to 5 slices roast turkey

1 to 2 slices Genoa salami or 3 to 4 slices pepperoni

Vinaigrette or Italian dressing

Split the roll and top one half with greens. Add sliced turkey, a little salami or pepperoni and then drizzle with the dressing. Top with second half of roll. Makes 1 sandwich.



Chattman likes avocado because it adds moisture to a turkey sandwich without making it soggy.

3 to 5 slices roast turkey

2 slices 7-grain bread

Half a small avocado, sliced

1 to 2 slices Cheddar cheese

Place turkey on a slice of 7-grain or whole-grain bread. Top with thinly sliced avocado, Cheddar cheese and another slice of bread. Makes 1 sandwich.



Chattman's kids love cranberry sauce and, not surprisingly, it is a natural for turkey sandwiches.

3 to 5 slices roast turkey

2 slices whole-wheat bread

1 to 2 tablespoons cranberry preserves (find them with jams and jellies) or cranberry sauce

Place turkey on a slice of bread. Top with cranberry preserves and then another slice of bread. Makes 1 sandwich.



It's all about peanut butter when Mitch SuDock makes sandwiches for his 9-year-old daughter Jessica, a 4th-grader at Solomon Schechter Day School in Jericho. "And let's get one thing straight," said the chef of Mitch & Toni's in Albertson, "it has to be crunchy peanut butter."

Jessica isn't a huge fan of whole-wheat bread, but SuDock has had great success with sandwiches made with white whole-wheat bread. ("White" wheat has a lighter taste than conventional wheat and thus whole-wheat bread made from it tastes very similar to regular white bread.)

He also recently introduced Jessica to Nutella, the hazelnut-chocolate spread that is a lunchtime favorite in Europe, and Nutella-based sandwiches have become a special treat.



2 to 3 tablespoons peanut butter

2 slices white whole-wheat bread

1 to 2 tablespoons honey

1 banana, thinly sliced

Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread, honey on the other. Cover the honeyed slice with thinly sliced banana and then top with peanut-buttered slice. Makes 1 sandwich.



This sandwich is a favorite not only of Jessica, but of her father. "We eat this all the time at the restaurant. If we have some granola around, we'll throw it into the sandwich for crunch."

2 slices raisin or nut bread

2 to 3 tablespoons peanut butter

1 to 2 tablespoons apple butter

2 to 3 tablespoons granola (optional)

Spread one slice of raisin bread with peanut butter, another with apple butter. If desired, sprinkle some granola on the apple butter, then close the sandwich. Makes 1 sandwich.



This is a special-occasion sandwich that works hot or cold.

2 to 3 tablespoons Nutella

2 slices whole-grain nut bread

Mini marshmallows

Spread Nutella on one slice of bread then cover with mini marshmallows. Place this and a second slice of bread in the toaster oven until the marshmallows begin to brown. Place second slice of bread on top of the first and eat immediately, or cool down and pack for lunch. Makes 1 sandwich.


Tuna three ways

It's not surprising that tuna is a popular sandwich filling at the home of Michael Meehan, chef at the Smithtown seafood restaurant H2O. Not only is dad a fish-o-phile, but it's one protein that his food-allergy-prone wife and red-meat-avoiding daughter, Heather, 16, will eat. (Sons John Henry, 10, and Jesse, 6, eat pretty much everything.)

Meehan, who lives in Aquebogue, looks for tuna that is labeled "dolphin safe," which means that a third party has ensured that the tuna producer followed established practices for avoiding harming dolphins while fishing for tuna. "Chunk light" is his tuna of choice.



2 to 3 tablespoons hummus

1 whole-wheat tortilla

Thinly sliced cucumber, about 2 inches worth

Roasted red pepper, cut into strips

Half of a 5-ounce can of tuna

Spread hummus over the center of the tortilla, top with cucumber, pepper strips, then well-drained tuna. Fold opposite sides of the tortilla over to partially cover the filling, then roll up wrap. Makes 1 wrap.



1 (5-ounce) can of tuna

2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

4 slices cracked wheat bread

Drain tuna very well, then mix with olive oil. Add lemon juice to taste and then fresh dill. Spread on bread. Makes 2 sandwiches.



1 (5-ounce) can of tuna

1 to 2 tablespoons finely minced celery

1 to 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

4 slices whole-grain bread

Cherry peppers, thinly sliced

Combine well-drained tuna with celery, mayonnaise and mustard. Spread on whole-grain bread then top with thinly sliced cherry peppers. Makes 2 sandwiches.

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