Here’s something for the next time you’re planning a party!
Back in June it was my boyfriend’s birthday and I decided to organise a surprise board game night with some of his friends. We’d just come out of the coronavirus lockdown in Slovenia and it didn’t feel right to have a whole big party, so I decided to experiment and make it classy. I was feeling very creative and that’s how these fancy mini sandwiches were born. Everyone loved them so much, I decided to share the recipe for the next time you’re planning a party and want to do something fancy and a bit extravagant, but still not super expensive.
We had 6 different types of sandwiches and you’ll find the recipe for each one below, but the real trick here is variety. Although you’ll need lots of different ingredients and quite a bit of advance work, most of them are reasonably normal and you can use them for other dishes too. You’ll be left with extremely tasty leftovers, if there are any, and you can even pair some of the spreads you’ll need for the sandwiches with baked potatoes, repurpose them as salad dressings or just eat them in sandwiches as a snack for the rest of the week. Trust me, you won’t be sorry!
Since there were 5 of us and everyone, including me, always eat a lot, I opted for the cheapest sandwich base possible: regular white toast bread – you know, the standard slightly squishy pre-cut bread squares meant for popping directly into your toaster. After toasting they’re actually quite decent lovely brown + they don’t have a specific taste, which is great because you don’t want it to interfere with your toppings. Obviously you can buy a French baguette or any other type of “real” bread if you want to escalate these fancy mini sandwiches to the next level of fanciness, but I promise they’ll taste great even just with regular old toasted bread.
As the quantities largely depend on how many people you’re planning for, I’m listing the ingredients with approximate quantities only. Here’s a basis you can plan with:
- One piece of toasted bread makes 4 small sandwiches, just cut it into 4 equal parts after toasting.
- You’ll need about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of the corresponding spread for each sandwich.
- You’ll also need a small slice of each topping (cheese, bacon…) per sandwich, which will be about the same size as the bread (i.e. a normal slice of prosciutto makes 4-6 sandwiches)
- I wanted to make sure that everyone got to try at least 2 sandwiches of each type, so that’s a minimum of 3 toast bread pieces per person. Since people tend to eat more than that, I also served other things.
#1: Spicy cilantro sandwiches with peach
- Chimichurri sauce or for my homemade version see below
- White peach (you can also use a regular yellow peach)
This sandwich is combines a somewhat spicy cilantro spread with the sweetness of white peach and it was actually inspired by the Latin American meat sauce chimichurri. So, if you have access to that, you can just put 1/2 teaspoon of that on the bread and a small slice of peach on top and you’re done. If you feel like the original sauce is too strong for your sandwich, you can dilute it a bit with olive oil.
Spicy cilantro spread
However, if you don’t have it or want to make the exact same thing I did, then the simplest way is to use a blender. This makes about 2 dl (1 cup) of my cilantro spread and you can save it in the fridge for later for up to 2 weeks. Blend together:
- 2 cups (60 g) of cilantro (preferably fresh)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons (3 g) of dry oregano
- 1-2 chilli peppers (or less/more according to taste)
- 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
- 1.5 dl (3/4 cup) of olive oil
- Salt to taste
Add salt to taste and adjust the sourness by adding more or less vinegar depending on what tastes best for you. Since I was making this for sandwiches, I wanted it to be a bit thicker than a regular chimichurri sauce would be, so feel free to add more olive oil if you feel it’s too thick.
#2: Pesto sandwiches with Parmesan
- Green (basil) pesto
- Fresh basil (optional)
Next up we have the typical Italian combination: pesto with a slice of Parmesan. Since I’m growing my own herbs, I always have access to fresh basil to put on top of the sandwich, which both looks pretty and makes it taste fancier, but if you don’t have it there’s no harm either. You’ll need about 1/2 teaspoon of pesto and I recommend spreading it thinly across the bread to avoid making it too strong. Add a thin slice of Parmesan and a fresh basil leaf on top and you’re done! For some reason, pesto is one of those things I tend to buy in the shop, but if you want to make it from scratch, here’s a recipe.
#3: Butter sandwiches with prosciutto and olive
- Butter (salted or unsalted as preferred)
- Prosciutto (or any other kind of dry-cured ham, but you could also use regular ham)
- Black olives (dry or pickled in brine)
This is another simple one: just butter up your sandwiches, cut a slice of prosciutto into 4-6 pieces depending on the size of the bread and top the buttered bread with a piece. Chop your black olives in half and remove the pit if there is one, then top each prosciutto sandwich with 2 olive halves. I was using dry olives with herbs, but you could also add some thyme on the butter under the prosciutto if you’re using brine pickled olives.
#4: Sweet paprika quark spread sandwiches with salami
- Liptauer spread or for my homemade version see below
- Salami (or any other kind of cured pork sausage, possibly even pepperoni)
- Fresh dill (optional)
Next we have a sandwich inspired by the Austro-Hungarian Liptauer spread. So, if you have access to that in the shops, spread a bit of Liptauer on your bread, top it of with a slice of your chosen salami and some fresh dill and you’re good to go. If you’re using dry dill you can also add it under the salami or there will be a mess. My version of a Liptauerish spread is a bit milder than the original to go well with the stronger taste of salami, so you could dilute the store-bought Liptauer with some quark or sour cream to make it milder if the taste feels too strong.
Sweet paprika quark spread
However, if you want my version of Liptauer, you’ll need:
- 230 g (1 cup) of quark/curd cheese or cottage cheese
- 3 tablespoons of sweet paprika powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of ground mustard seeds
- 2 tablespoons of sour cream
- Salt, black pepper to taste
Mash it all together with a fork until it’s well mixed and let it sit in the fridge for a bit. It makes about a cup and will sit in the fridge for up to a week.
#5: Prune spread sandwiches with bacon
- Prune spread (see below)
- Smoked bacon (thin slices of such a bacon that you can eat it raw)
- Fresh radish sprouts (optional)
Put a bit of the prune spread on your bread and top it of with a slice of smoked bacon or any other kind of cured meat, it could even be prosciutto again. Just make sure that you get a type of bacon that is safe to eat raw. Since I regularly grow sprouts, I also like to use them as toppings for everything. For these sandwiches I used radish sprouts, but again, it doesn’t really matter. However, you’ll want to balance out the sweet prune taste with something fresher, so you could also use: other kinds of microgreens or leafy herbs like cilantro, oregano, mint or anything that isn’t too sweet, as well as the green part of spring onions or a piece of fresh spinach or rocket.
For this spread you’ll need:
- 230 g (1 cup) prunes
- Bailey’s Irish cream (or another brand of similar liquor)
Chop the prunes into small pieces and mash them a bit, season with salt and add a couple of tablespoons of Irish cream liquor. You should add just enough that the prunes are marinating in it, but not so much that they’ll be swimming in it, because your spread will be too runny. Leave the whole thing in the fridge overnight for the prunes to soak up the Irish cream and marvel at the simplicity and awesomeness of this in the morning. For the record, I saw this idea somewhere, but I couldn’t find the source.
It makes about one cup and goes great with any kind of salted or smoky meat, but it’s a bit strong so don’t feed it to children. 🙂
#6: White bean spread sandwiches with soft cheese
- White bean spread (see below)
- Soft white cheese (any kind of cow or sheep’s milk cheese, or even something like mozzarella or feta)
- Black pepper
Same as always, spread a bit of the bean spread on the bread, top it up with a slice of your chosen white cheese and finish it off with some freshly ground black pepper and/or chilli flakes.
White bean spread
For the white bean spread you’ll need to mash together:
- 200 g (1 cup) canned white beans
- 0.5 dl (1/4 cup) olive oil
- 3 tablespoons of basil (fresh or dry)
- Salt to taste
The best option is to use a fork again, but make sure that the canned beans are really mashed, so they’ll release the juice and become a spread. It makes about one cup and it will sit in the fridge for up to a week. I find it’s best to let it marinade in the fridge for a few hours before using, so that the beans become infused with the basil flavour. Simple, but amazing!
Now, as you can tell you’ll need to do a bit of advance work to prepare these fancy mini sandwiches. I’d recommend preparing all the spreads a few hours or a day in advance and storing them in the fridge. It shouldn’t take you more than half an hour or 45 minutes to make all the spreads, because they’re really simple and you don’t even need to make huge quantities, but you can if you want to. I usually store them in cups or small mason jars, because I never throw away any glass jars that we buy. Toast the bread and assemble the sandwiches right before the party, but plan for about an hour of preparation to avoid rushing and bad vibes.
I served all of these fancy mini sandwiches with a homemade hummus dip and Chinese cabbage for dipping, mozzarella and tomatoes with watercress sprouts, homemade quick pickled carrots and cheese, some olives, salad and some other cured meats. There was also lots of extra toasted bread and of course the leftovers of my spread creations so that the guests could make their own sandwiches after my pre-prepared fancy mini sandwiches run out.
However, if you want to keep it within the budget, even just the sandwiches and a good drink would’ve been enough for a fancy party night, and you can always adjust the quantities as needed, so come give it a go the next time you’re planning a party!
Or alternatively, give some of them a try as proper sized sandwiches tomorrow. 🙂 Let me know if you liked this recipe in the comments.