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A new approach to the old ham and cheese sandwich

In a moment of vacation desperation, my son's dream sandwich was born.
/ Source: The Associated Press

In a moment of vacation desperation, my son's dream sandwich was born.

It was late. My son was hungry, tired and cranky. We'd just arrived at our rental apartment and there was virtually no food in the refrigerator.

All I could scrounge were a couple slices of whole-wheat bread, a bit of sliced ham and some cream cheese. So I combined them into what was a surprise instant (and much lauded by the 6-year-old set) hit that went on to become my son's new go-to sandwich.

Now that we're back home, I decided to play with it a bit and see if I could up the nutrition. After all, if he's going to eat this all the time, the bread shouldn't be the peak of its nutritional profile.

So I added some baby spinach and oil-packed sundried tomatoes. Now it wasn't just delicious, but also ever-so-slightly more nutritious. The flavors also were significantly more sophisticated. Which meant I no longer minded indulging in one myself.

Though I call for toasting the sandwich, you can skip that part. You also can toast it, then let it cool and pack it for lunch. The toasting adds a pleasant crunch that is nice even when the sandwich isn't warm.



Start to finish: 10 minutes

Servings: 1

2 ounces cream cheese

2 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread

1/2 cup baby spinach leaves

5 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and patted dry

3 slices deli-sliced ham

Ground black pepper

Butter or cooking spray

Spread the cream cheese evenly over 1 side of each slice of bread. Top 1 slice with the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and ham. Season the ham with black pepper, then finish the sandwich with the remaining slice of bread, cream cheese side in.

Heat a small skillet over medium. Add either a bit of butter or coat the pan with cooking spray. Add the sandwich and toast for 4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately, or let cool before wrapping in foil and adding to a packed lunch.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 570 calories; 290 calories from fat (49 percent of total calories); 33 g fat (14 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 90 mg cholesterol; 45 g carbohydrate; 31 g protein; 8 g fiber; 1,410 mg sodium.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook "High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking." Follow him to great eats on Twitter at or e-mail him at jhirsch(at)