5@5 - New twists on PB&J
February 9th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Peanut butter and jelly: It's the salty-sweet combination immortalized in lunchbox lore that we always come back to.

And chances are, if you were a peanut butter-loving kid, you're now a peanut butter-loving adult.

Case in point, meet Lee Zalben. Zalben - appropriately nicknamed “The Peanut Butter Guy" - is the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co.

While Zalben agrees nothing can replace the traditional PB&J sandwich, he's certainly not opposed to creating delicious riffs on the childhood classic.

These recipes are downright nutty by nature.

Five New Twists on PB&J: Lee Zalben

1. PB&J French Toast
"Start by taking two slices of your favorite bread (day-old is just fine for this) and spread a thick layer of peanut butter on one slice and close the sandwich with the other. Dip it in a mixture of egg and milk (just like you would for traditional French toast) and fry the sandwich in a pan with a little butter.

In the meantime, use a small saucepan and a low flame to gently heat some grape juice concentrate or grape jelly until it reaches a syrup-like consistency. Serve the French toast with the grape syrup for a nutty twist on a classic brunch dish."

2. The PB&J Turkey Burger Theorem
Peanut Butter + Jelly = Yum (The PB&J Axiom).
Cranberry Jelly = Yum (The Preserved Fruit Axiom).
Cranberry Jelly + Turkey = Yum (The Thanksgiving Salty-Sweet Axiom).
Peanut Butter + Cranberry Jelly + Turkey Burger = Yum (above theorem proved).

"It may sound weird, but don’t knock it before you try it! Burger joints all over the country have been schmearing peanut butter on burgers to great acclaim over the last few years. This takes it one step further by adding jelly to the mix, so why not invoke a little Thanksgiving spirit?

You could prepare this by adding peanut butter to your burger meat, but for maximum PB&J enjoyment, start with a grilled turkey burger, a dollop of peanut butter and a thick slice of cranberry jelly, all sandwiched between an oversized Parker House roll.

You could also prepare this using softer 'whole berry' cranberry sauce and spoon that on top of the peanut butter, but that wouldn’t be quite so much fun."

3. PB&J Vinaigrette (Roasted Aromatic Peanut Oil, Raspberry Vinegar)
"Roasted aromatic peanut oil is made by pressing the peanut oil out of peanut paste (the precursor to peanut butter, just ground up peanuts before sweetener, salt and stabilizer are added).

Roasted aromatic peanut oil has a rich, dark, nutty flavor that, when combined with some raspberry vinegar, a dash of salt and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper, will add a very light, very grown-up and very nuanced PB&J flavor to some salad greens.

Use about 3/4 cup oil for every 1/4 cup of vinegar and season to taste. Some chopped shallots are nice in this dressing too."

4. PB&J Glazed Ham (Peanut Butter, Apricot Jam)
"Glazed hams are already doing the salty-sweet tango, so why not invite PB&J, the original salty-sweet combo to the party too? Gently heat one cup of apricot jam with 2/3 cup of peanut butter to create a delicious glaze that is a perfect baste as you heat your ham for a holiday or everyday."

5. PB&J Hot Wings (Peanut Butter, Apple Jelly, Chili Flakes)
"Apple jelly doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it used to, and it’s a shame, because its sweet, fresh flavor makes it a versatile sandwich spread and cooking ingredient.

Gently heat the contents of a 10 oz jar of apple jelly with 1/2 cup of smooth peanut butter until combined. Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of red pepper flakes, one teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and one half teaspoon of smoked, hot paprika.

Line a shallow baking dish with foil and add 1 dozen raw chicken wings. Pour the PB&J sauce over the wings and toss to coat.

Cover with foil and cook at 375°F for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and baste the wings with the sauce in the pan.

Finish cooking uncovered until browned, about 10 more minutes (watch closely to make sure they don't burn). Complete the dish by garnishing with celery sticks stuffed with cream cheese and topped with peanuts and raisins!"

How do you push the boundaries of one of the most classic sandwiches of all time - the PB&J? Spread your secrets in the comments.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Make • Recipes • Think

soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Lolita

    I love natural PB on whole wheat toast with grilled banana and strawberry preserves. Stick a few pieces of turkey bacon in there, and you've really got something special.

    February 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  2. Laureth

    I am a total peanut butteraholic(my daughter once told me I have a peanut butter monkey on my back), but I'm not especially adventurous when it comes to sandwiches. I stick to the standard pb&j and nothing else. For me it's fine on its own and needs no further embellishments. One thing I do like to do is dip a Hershey bar mini into a jar of peanut butter.

    February 13, 2012 at 7:17 am |
  3. Slupdawg

    I like mine with a baseball bat....

    February 13, 2012 at 4:21 am |
  4. bakermaker

    PB, the american flag, some crutons and, american cheese, canadian backbacon, some hair from a mountie and goats milk, bake at 350 degrees, YUM, YUM

    February 13, 2012 at 3:57 am |
  5. KL In Idaho

    2 pieces of toasted sourdough bread, PB, blackberry jam and cheddar cheese in the middle.

    February 12, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  6. RunnerGirl70

    My mom ate pb and j with Guldens mustard...

    My personal favorite is Wonder bread, Jif extra chunky on one side, dark chocolate peanut butter on the other. Sliced banana in the middle. If you grill is, it gets melty/gooey, but its fine just as is. Dark chocolate PB is the nuts!!

    February 12, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  7. Joe Jefferson

    Tying a well known urban myth that involves peanut butter to an article about new takes on pb&j is ignorant? What is it that I'm ignorant of exactly. Tasteless? Yes. Ignorant? No. By definition of the word.

    February 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  8. FKR95

    you should be ashamed to be so ignorant but then again you're probably too stupid and immature to realize it. why don't you go back to the playground with your emotional equivalents and think of new ways to say poo poo

    February 12, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  9. Ol' Diz

    ..when my wife and I first moved in together, I caught her in the kitchen making a tunafish salad sandwich..with peanut butter. I rolled my eyes in disbelief when she slapped the two pieces together and took a big bite.

    "Ever try it?"


    "Here.." and offered me a taste. I've been hooked ever sense.

    February 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  10. Spicy

    PB&J with pepperoni.....spicy and chewy at the same time!

    February 12, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  11. stacey

    You know what is a great twist on the PB&J thing? PB&J jalapeno poppers!! Stuff the jalapeno with PB, batter and fry it then serve with a hot pepper jelly. Mmmm mmm mm!!! :)

    February 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  12. Kaitlynn

    Not the biggest jelly fan, but I love grilled cheese with PB. Has to be crappy white bread, and cheap, but melty plastic wrapped american cheese, and Jif! My Mom used to make these for me when I was a kid. I make one for myself every once in a while. Serious comfort food! To all you health food whiners out there, how bout you stop being such kill joys? Just because someone says they like something doesnt mean they're shoving it into their pieholes 24/7. Moderation is the key to pretty much everything, and if you, yourself are eating a healthy diet you should know that to begin with!

    February 11, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • carriedd

      couldn't agree with you more. my son loves pb&j and i'll sneak in a banana or fruit or even a slice of tomato. he loves them and if that makes him happy it makes me happy.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  13. mabbts

    Reblogged this on The Pastor's Eye and commented:
    I thought some things were above improvement. This is one of them. Fortunately I was wrong–putting these on the lunch list!

    February 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  14. fairplay

    Peanut butter and pickles. Good.

    February 11, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Annie

      OMG, didn't think anybody else knew about this! My buddy got me hooked on this. I was so doubtful, but I took a bite and was hooked.

      February 12, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  15. S T

    Ha, these all sound disgusting but are probably surprisingly good.

    I'm a fan of eating super crunchy organic peanut butter with Nutella (on a spoon or in bread) – the result tastes like a Reese's but is better. I've gone through tubs of peanut butter and Nutella in 2 days.

    February 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  16. MargoX

    Open-faced, Peanut butter with melted American cheese.

    February 11, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  17. Kaelinda

    Start with a quarter cup of smooth peanut butter. Add a quarter cup of maple syrup. Stir the two together until the mixture is very smooth. Serve on buttered biscuits or saltine crackers. Yum!

    February 11, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  18. Phil

    Peanut butter with crispy bacon on a sandwich.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • E Aaron P

      Uuh huh Huh. Add some banana to your PB&J twist for a whole lot of love'n and you've made the classical Elvis sandwich.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  19. Plate-O

    Contem-plate some bread & butter pickles w/ your next PB&J

    February 11, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  20. stilllearning2b

    I am gluten-intolerant and most GF breads aren't worth the calories, so I reinterpreted the classic PB&J into oatmeal. Stir in 2 tbsp of peanut butter, 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, a little almond milk, and top with the berries (aka jam in its natural form) of your choosing.

    February 11, 2012 at 5:30 am |
    • Thumbalina's plum

      Congratulations! You are the first person to ever make peanut butter sound gross. If you enjoy that mess you'd also enjoy putting peanut butter on your nose or other body part and let your dog lick it off. Or is this another one of the lessons of your marriage?

      February 11, 2012 at 7:10 am |
      • pb&jamie

        I don't think it sounds gross at all. Sounds like a yummy breakfast, actually. To me, pickles and PB sounds gross. To each their own – why did you feel a need to comment if you were just going to be rude?

        February 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  21. RayeofSunshine

    Take a tortilla wrap, spread smooth peanut butter, then a drizzle of honey or Nutella, a mashed up banana, and a few raisins or chocolate chips and roll it up! Mmm!

    February 11, 2012 at 4:09 am |
  22. Brice

    Two favs here: PB on rye with slices of fresh onion and PB on leftover pancakes with a good salsa. Yea, mana from heaven!

    February 11, 2012 at 2:14 am |
  23. Tina

    At Zahav in Philadelphia they do pita bread drizzled with sesame paste and a fig reduction sauce with seared foie gras. Best. Ever. GO TO ZAHAV.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Thumbalina's plum

      So, it ain't got nothing to do with PB&J. Stay on Subject

      February 11, 2012 at 7:11 am |
  24. Dan

    Peanut butter and Nutella between two pieces of toast...can't beat it on a Saturday in the winter.

    February 10, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
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