Monday, February 7, 2011

Meditteranean Ciabatta Sandwich

Lunch is not one of my favorite meals. Brunch, yes. But lunch, no. It always seems so boring to me. So I'm always looking for a way to keep it fresh, inventive and tasty.

During one of the snowstorms in New York last week, I was working from the comforts of my home (don't you love modern technology!) when my stomach started grumbling. I decided to keep it close to the apartment and remembered Orwasher's Bakery that I kept passing by on my walks with my dog. The yeasty yumminess of freshly baked bread was definitely calling my name on that winter afternoon.

In 2007, Oven Artisans purchased Orwasher Bakery that had been open in Manhattan's Upper East Side for over a century! Using old school techniques with modern, they created a line of artisan wine breads using wine as the yeast starter. One of the breads that came out of that is their olive bread which uses Chardonnay grapes. Unfortunately, I will leave this to taste for another post, since on this day their beautiful ciabatta was beckoning me.

This Mediterranean sandwich was what came from discovering this little neighborhood gem. For my veggie readers, the chicken can be easily substituted with some grilled zucchini or portobello mushrooms.

Serves 2

1 medium ciabatta loaf, cut into 2 4-inch loaves
1/2 cup herb mayo (see below for recipe)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 tsp herbes de Provence

For herb mayo:
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 cup parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup light mayo, use a good quality

1. Season chicken thighs liberally with salt, pepper and fennel seeds. Let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
2. Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown crust forms. If the chicken feels firm to the touch, it is done. Do not cut into the meat as it will release all the juices into the pan.
3. Remove chicken from skillet and let sit on a plate for a few minutes. Resting your meat before cutting is very important to have a nice, juicy cut. Then, slice chicken thinly.
4. In same skillet,add tomatoes and season with salt, pepper and herbes de Provence. Cook over medium heat until charred and tomatoes pop from heat. This should take roughly 5-10 minutes.
5. Cut ciabatta bread in half. On one side, spread 1/4 cup herb mayo; on the other, add half grilled tomatoes. With back of a spoon, press down and smear tomatoes and juices over the bread. Add half of sliced chicken on bottom half of bread. Top with the other half and repeat process with the last half loaf of bread.

For herb mayo:
1. In food processor, add parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and oil. Pulse until mixture is semi-smooth.
2. Scrape paste from processor into small mixing bowl and fold in mayo until fully incorporated.
3. Herb mayo can be made up to 3 days in advance. It is good for a week.

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