Thursday, February 24, 2011
Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches with Tomato Basil Jam
It's the time of year when everything in the produce section at the grocery store is either months old (storage veggies like potatoes, onions, and root veggies) or imported from a warmer climate (all of which are bajillions of miles away from Wisconsin).
It's the season in Wisconsin when the idea of fresh locally grown herbs is a complete anomaly -- unless your green thumb allowed you to get a pot of them to grow in a warm, sunny window at the southeastern corner of your house.
It's the time of year when all the plants outside look dead. The grass is covered in dirty snow. And the only thing that looks remotely green are the evergreen shrubs planted in front of most houses on my block.
Ah, yes... despite these things, I really do love February.
You think I'm joking, don't you?
But, I'm not. The reason I love this time of the year so much is because I'm pretty well prepared for it. I have a hat to wear when it's cold outside. And warm, waterproof boots that allow me to tromp through the snow without a care in the world. And, best of all, my basement pantry and freezer are stocked with items that, when opened, take me back to the days when a sunny day meant a warm day. When vegetables were in season and at their prime right in my backyard. And the farmer's market was teeming with new delights each week... tomatillo salsa, roasted tomatoes and peppers,
And one jar of tomato basil jam -- gifted to me by my friend Rena, whose generosity is surpassed only by her ability to make my day better just by being around. She gave me the jar of jam last summer, after the tomato harvest, and I've been simultaneously hoarding it and waiting to break into it ever since.
Fortunately, a particular craving inspired me to break it open. Peef was hankering for a panini. And I was thinking about summer. I also happened to have chicken breasts on hand, along with a bit of Wisconsin Sartori Reserve Sarvecchio Parmesan cheese, and a delicious loaf of sourdough bread.
It didn't take much effort to get my creative juices flowing. First, I took the chicken breasts and pounded them nice and flat between two sheets of waxed paper.
A few slices of cheese, a spread of tomato basil jam, and a handful of winter greens from Growing Power (an awesome urban farm in Milwaukee that grows fresh micro-greens & salad mixes all winter long-- read more here), and we had ourselves a pretty amazing sandwich.
All in all, opening that jar was like opening a perfectly preserved jar of summer. Just the sort of thing to cure your February blues.
And just in case you'd like a link to bookmark this jam for next year's summer tomato harvest:
Tomato Basil Jam
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Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at FOODCrush, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.