Saturday, May 4, 2013

On Bread and Bagged Lunch

I have two new favorite sandwich breads: La Brea Take and Bake Ciabatta Rolls, and the Ancient Grains loaf at Whole Foods, pictured here.

The former was a lucky, but informed, guess. I met Nancy Silverton (of La Brea Bakery) once when she was visiting my boss's restaurant. They worked together years earlier. I was young and awestruck enough to convince myself of a personal connection to Nancy: Melinda and Nancy worked together. I work with Melinda. Ergo, I've worked with Nancy. If it weren't a complete lie it'd be a brilliant way to pad one's resume.

Anyhoo, I stumbled on the rolls at Treasure Island and thought they might work for the Caprese sandwiches my kids like so much. Now, I probably fall in the middle about obsessing over what goes in their neoprene lunchbags. I've got friends who make mid-day trips to school with their kids lunches so that the children will have a freshly prepared lunch. I've got friends (more fall into this category) who make their kids' lunches the night before. I'm capable of neither. Sometime in the window between my morning Americano kicking in and Crap!-It's-Time-to-Go-Or-You'll-Be-Marked-Tardy (on a good morning this is about 20 minutes, but it's usually more like 10-15), I consider what they had yesterday, what they are apt to eat that day (and not give away or toss), and a balance of treats:protein:whole foods.

The caprese sandwich is one they really like, but it's got to be made on baguette or ciabatta, and both are often less than great on Day 2 (Day 1 being the day before, when I bought the bread).  Enter the take and bake bread idea. Since Nancy does wonderful bread, I decided to give her's a go, and I give to two thumbs up. The take and bake baguettes are great, too. And both the baguettes and the rolls freeze well, meaning you can stock up a bit and bake them as directed right from the freezer. I recommend them for anyone who likes fresh bread in their lunch but who has to buy it in advance.

On to the Ancient Grains loaf. I am not a fan of the WF bakery. But this particular loaf has a really great flavor. I would use it as a substitute for our house sandwich bread: Trader Joe's sprouted grain. It would make great French Toast, too. I wouldn't buy it to serve at dinner - it's not crusty or glorious enough.

Caprese Sandwich
Print recipe only here

Makes two sandwiches

Two ciabatta rolls, or equivalent portion of baguette
1 ball fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil - amount varies but I use lots: from 4-8 leaves
1-2 T Extra virgen olive oil
3-4 t Balsamic vinegar (I like Colavita)
1 Roma tomato, sliced (the firmness of the Roma works well in a sandwich that will be eaten later in the day)
Pinch salt

Slice open ciabbatta or baguette. Pour the olive oil and balsamic into a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, or a spoon, brush over the both surfaces of the bread. Cover base of sandwich with basil leaves.

Slice the Roma and the mozzarella and sprinkle with salt, then divide between the sandwiches. Top with additional basil, if desired. My kids like extra basil because it prevents the bread from getting soggy.