In the nationwide consciousness the Australian salad sandwich is diametrically reverse to the meat pie. The latter is brown and heat, a generally meals; the previous, a culinary rainbow bursting with freshness, vitality and, dare I say, hope?

The meat pie and its compatriot the sausage roll had been gentrified some years in the past. The hand-held meals journeyed from their conventional properties on the faculty canteen, milk bar and servo; into the wandering imaginations and stressed fingers of cooks.

The salad sandwich? Not a lot. In 2018, the New York Instances even portended its extinction. However 5 years on, the salad sandwich has met a special future, glowed up and grown up, much less sanga and extra glamwich.

Exterior shot of a takeaway sandwich shop, with outdoor seating, located at a smash repair shop
Kosta’s Takeaway in Sydney’s Rockdale is an order-from-the-counter operation positioned at a smash restore store. {Photograph}: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian
Close-up of hands holding a slice salad sandwich wrapped in white paper
The salad sandwich at Kosta’s Takeaway, that includes shredded iceberg lettuce – the ‘GOAT lettuce’, in keeping with chef Lachlan Copeland. {Photograph}: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

Who’s complaining? Nobody, judging by the traces at Kosta’s Takeaway. The Sydney sandwich spot is simply that – a dot on a stretch of semi-industrial highway that heaves with vans. Surrounded by automotive yards, Kosta’s is an order-from-the-counter operation positioned at a smash restore store.

Theirs has all of the makings of the old-school basic, however did those out of your childhood have a salsa verde of tarragon and dill? There’s carrots (pickled), beetroot (important), tomatoes (seasoned the second they land on the sandwich) and sprouts (alfalfa, in fact). The lettuce is iceberg (“the GOAT lettuce”, says chef Lachlan Copeland). There’s no butter, however there’s a crush of avocado. The beetroot is just not tinned, however simmered and sliced. White onions are soaked in water to mute the raw-onion flavour, and dusted with sumac – taking inspiration from the onions you’ll discover at takeaway kebab joints. Plus: provolone cheese, honey mustard dressing, and a nut-free dukkah-like seasoning of fried garlic and pumpkin seeds, AKA “attractive salt”.

A chef’s hand spooning salsa verde on to a salad sandwich in the making.
‘It’s most likely the toughest sandwich to make’: Benjamin Terkalas, co-owner of Kosta’s Takeaway, on the high-maintenance menu merchandise. {Photograph}: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

Throughout the nation, variations on fancy salad sandwiches abound. Broad-leaf rocket may substitute for lettuce, snow pea tendrils for sprouts. As a substitute of cheese, you may discover a skinny unfold of herby egg salad. At Superdays Espresso in Melbourne, they’re benefiting from basil season with the addition of house-made walnut pesto; at Good Methods Deli in Sydney, a dab of vegan mushroom pate riffs on the pork liver present in Vietnamese bánh mì.

Nevertheless you slice it, beetroot is a mainstay, a lot to the bemusement of Casey Wall, the North Carolina-born government chef of Melbourne’s Falco Bakery. “We don’t have salad sandwiches within the States,” he says. He tried his first, with canned sliced beetroot, at a nondescript bakery in regional Victoria. “I ate a number of beets rising up, however they weren’t from a can.”

A sliced salad sandwich on a plate, placed on a green outdoor table under dappled sunlight
A culinary rainbow bursting with freshness and vitality: the salad sandwich from Good Methods Deli in Sydney’s Alexandria. {Photograph}: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian
Good Methods Deli co-owner Tom Pye on the Alexandria store in Sydney {Photograph}: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

salad sandwich wants a gradual hand, a watch for element, and a stable basis. “The salad sandwich has essentially the most elements [on the menu],” says Kosta’s co-owner Benjamin Terkalas. “And in service, it’s most likely the toughest sandwich to make.”

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Building is as integral as flavour. At Good Methods Deli, co-owner Jordan McKenzie tenderly lies a slice of tilsit cheese (purchased by the wheel and custom-sliced so it suits the oblong ciabatta) as the bottom filling. “It offers a seal for the bread … in case you have any runny elements, the cheese is an efficient barrier.”

At Superdays Espresso, the sandwich runs a rainbow spectrum from the densest elements on the backside, beginning with their chosen “cheese barrier” – a cow’s milk cacio pepper – by to carrot, beetroot and dill pickles within the center; to a fragile shroud of butter lettuce on prime. “If we layer it otherwise, the bread can generally absorb a few of the pickle juice,” says co-owner Caitlin Hunter.

Then “the ‘structural integrity’ of the sandwich is compromised”.

A man in a white T-shirt and red cap, standing in front of a takeaway sandwich shop
‘It become a salad in a fucking bowl’: Benjamin Terkalas on the fateful second the Kosta’s Takeaway workforce determined to alter to a extra structurally sound bread. {Photograph}: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

Holding all of it collectively is the bread. At Kosta’s, it as soon as got here on a schiacciata – a mushy focaccia-like rectangular bread – however after one chew, “it become a salad in a fucking bowl”, says Terkalas. Now they use a sturdier, ciabatta-like roll.

At Falco Bakery, head baker and co-owner Christine Tran shapes sourdough nation tin loaves to have a extra “closed crumb” – that’s, tighter bread bubbles – to assist all of the filling.

However why all of the fuss? As a result of there’s nowhere to cover with a salad sandwich. No hulking one-note animal protein to do the heavy lifting. All of the parts should work collectively in concord, complementing, contrasting or filling-in for one another, making a sandwich that’s greater than the sum of its sliced and shredded elements.

A pair of tongs arranging julienned beetroot on a salad sandwich
Nevertheless you slice it, beetroot is a mainstay of an Australian salad sandwich. At Good Methods, it comes julienned and pickled. {Photograph}: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

Again within the salad sandwich’s non secular birthplace, the tuck store, the lunch nonetheless thrives. Wendy Ward’s enterprise, Classroom Catering, providers 20 main faculties in western Sydney, with excessive Muslim and Indian populations. A salad sandwich is a secure guess for halal or vegetarian college students. That’s a part of the rationale it’s the preferred filling for the canteens’ sandwiches, wraps and rolls, all made contemporary on-site at college.

The sandwich seems somewhat completely different to these Ward grew up on within the 70s and 80s – the bread is wholemeal, for one, and somewhat than choosing them out, college students now fortunately munch on the tangles of alfalfa. The salad sandwich hasn’t wilted. If something, it’s brisker than ever.