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9 Sandwiches That Will Make Your Brown-Bag Lunch Sing

Being stuck in an office all day is detrimental to a few things — namely, our lunches and our tans. We’re here to help with the first. Prevent PB&J fatigue with these nine solutions to the boring brown bag dilemma. With any luck, it won’t feel like you’re eating at your desk anymore.

My Best Tomato Sandwich

Your desk will look a lot less drab with this bright, colorful sandwich on it. The are the attention-hogging divas of this sandwich, so be sure to get good, fresh ones from the greenmarket.

Makes 1 sandwich

2 slices dense wholegrain bread with lots of seeds
1 medium beefsteak tomato (New Jersey or otherwise), perfectly ripe
Mayonnaise
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Toast the bread to your liking. Let it cool for a bit while you core and cut the tomato into 1/8-inch slices. Slather one side of each piece of toast with about a teaspoon and a half of mayonnaise (more or less if you like) and layer as many of the tomato slices as you can on top of one one piece of toast. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Top with the other piece of toast, cut in half (vertically or diagonally – the choice is yours, so go wild). Eat immediately, with a side of napkins to catch the tomato/mayo juices that will undoubtedly dribble down your chin.

2. Flank Steak on Texas Toast with Chimichurri

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This is a true two-hander. it’s a masculine sandwich, seemingly built for man’s man, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from crossing gender lines. Hint: assemble this bad boy when it’s time for lunch, so your bread doesn’t get soggy. It’ll be worth the extra work.

3. The Farmer’s (Brown Bag) Lunch

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Sick of hummus? Here’s a new idea for you non-lunch-meat eaters: layer briny, pickled green tomatoes, crisp apple slices, and tangy cheese in between really great bread to give your brown bag lunch an instant pick-me-up.

4. Pan Bagnat: Le French Tuna Salad Sandwich

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If you like feeling like you’re in Southern France while you eat lunch, this one is for you. It’s basically a Nicoise tuna salad, tucked between two garlic-slicked halves of a crusty baguette. And, the recipe has you assemble this the night before, which gives your salad time to marinate, and you time to get ready in the morning.

5. Pork Cutlet Sandwiches with Basil Aioli

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This sandwich is a win on two counts. First, it really is just that good, with a garlicky punch from aioli and summery sweetness from fresh basil. Second, this is great way to repackage pork from last night’s dinner. You’ll be hard-pressed to call them leftovers.

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Your everyday sandwich isn’t the brainchild of a famous chef and his restaurant. Let’s change that with this genius combination of shrimp and chorizo, a spin-off of a Tom Colicchio recipe. For an even better at-work lunch, pretend, while you eat, that he made it personally for you.

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Next time you want something a little more exotic in your lunch bag, make this. Most bánh mì are made with a rich and fatty ground pork, and while fatty pork almost always makes things better, this one uses seasoned pork tenderloin to give it character. Also, it’s healthier, if you’re into that.

8. Prosciutto and Fontina Panini with Arugula Pesto

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Here, the classic combination of prosciutto and fontina cheese gets an update from a peppery arugula pesto that will leak, deliciously, into all the notches of the ciabatta. Office kitchen not stocked with a panini press? First, put in a request for one; before it arrives, just make sure your fontina is thinly sliced, and prepare a cold version. It’s just as tasty.

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You got us: this one isn’t a sandwich, but it’s about to spice up all of the ones that exist in your routine lunch rotation. Put this preserved-lemon-flecked aioli on any brown-bag selection, and it will instantly brighten the whole affair. Bonus: you can make a big batch at home to use all week. Also, it’s adaptable. Stir in your favorite minced herbs to switch this condiment up.

Food52 is a community for people who love food and cooking. Follow them at Food52.com and on Twitter @Food52.

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