While we didn't have the following featured recipe for lunch, school or otherwise, sandwiches and more lunchy type items have been high on the dinner list around here lately. One reason is the continuing heat but we are all bored hearing about that, so we'll move to reason number two.
I have been seized with some sort of organizing bug of late and have actually cleared three areas in our house that had been suffering from Any Way You Want It, Here's the Place to Leave It syndrome for some time(read:a decade).
Combine all that Sorting Fatigue with my determination to find more ways to work sardines into our menu and it was destiny that the recipe I spotted recently on Serious Eats for Sardine Sandwiches with Tomato Jam and Fresh Cheese would find its way onto our dinner plates in a big hurry.The only catch was the Tomato Jam component. Making that required a little heating up the kitchen and some attention, yes, but seeing as one of the areas I was tackling as part of my Get It Organized efforts was conveniently right off the kitchen, I worked it out.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 small shallots, minced (onion will do in a pinch)
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/4 teaspoon pimentón
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 tin sardines packed in olive oil, about 4 ounces; skinless and boneless preferred
6 slices multigrain sandwich bread
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese, ricotta, or cream cheese
1 packed cup arugula (or mixed greens or baby spinach)
1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until soft and fragrant, stirring regularly.Add the tomatoes, pimentón, salt, pepper, and sugar. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is thick and the juices have evaporated. Transfer to a bowl to cool. (This can be prepared up to a day in advance.)2. Drain the sardines and mash roughly with a fork. Slice the crusts off the bread and discard or save for bread crumbs. Toast the slices until golden brown.
3. Build the sandwiches: toast, cheese, tomato jam, sardines, arugula, toast.Use a sharp bread knife to halve diagonally.
Observant readers will note the recipe states this serves three people and there are two sandwiches ready for their top slice of bread on each plate in the photo. My multigrain loaf was a bit on the small side so I actually made four sandwiches with the idea I'd have reruns the next day for lunch. Turns out these were so savory good we ended up eating them all and promised never to tell. (ooops....)These photos, just to belabor the obvious, are of the sandwich prior to the second slice of bread being placed. I briefly thought of eating these open faced, but figured with the arugula on the tomato jam on the cheese that style would be begging for a sliding tectonic plate type disaster of ingredients moving off the bread onto our shirts or laps.
Maybe I was supposed to spread the tomato jam a bit thicker because I have some left over. Fiddlesticks! I'll just have to use it up, like on bruschetta with some goat cheese or something awful like that. Oh the trials of having good food around this very enjoy-it-while-it-lasts, neatly organized house...
Speaking of playing nicely... I fortunately managed to avoid any of the featured Ten Worst Lunch Boxes Ever disasters growing up. I did have a clear favorite however. My most cherished lunch box, hands down, was also my very first lunch box.Shaped and painted on the outside to look like a barn with an domed "roof", it opened to reveal a thermos painted like a matching grain silo that was clipped snugly into place under the arched top. I thought it was the most cunning thing I'd ever seen. I still do.