It’s week 10 of the home renovation project and the end is not yet in sight. Month one arrived with a rush of excitement as construction finally launched – concrete, framing beams, and green board rising quickly, revealing the shape of the rooms to come. Month two brought the satisfaction of demolition, the old, tired kitchen torn out and replaced by possibility and openness.
In the third month, finding progress requires a much closer look. The loud burly framing crew has been replaced by the careful, quiet plumbers and electricians. Laying pipes and pulling wires looks time-consuming, even for my entirely untrained eye. But of course, knowing and feeling are often misaligned. Arriving home after a long day, eager to see progress, I walk the house seeking change: a run of canned lights in the kitchen ceiling, a pipe carefully curved and tucked between the floor joists. Seeing the guts of the house exposed satisfies a child-like curiosity about how things work and I know it’s all moving us forward toward new space. Yet I yearn for dramatic change – to see floors, walls, and ceilings laid down, readied for their final dress in wood, paint, and tile.
My impatience with the speed of progress is also reflected in a growing boredom with our dinner choices. We’ve fallen into a rhythm, what one could see as a positive solution to the challenge of cooking kitchen-less: grill farm share vegetables simply, add meat, often pre-marinaded and skewered. It’s much cleaner and fresher living than restaurant take-out, friendlier on our budget and our bellies. But the same urge that drives me to explore new recipes, take on ambitious cooking projects at the end of a long workday, and fill my Sundays with soups, sauces, and salad dressings, is pushing against the constraints of grill life.
Beyond the monotony of our new dinner routine, I’ve also been struggling with what to make for lunch. For a family that relies heavily on dinner’s leftovers to fill our lunchboxes, the grill menu has challenged preparation for two meals daily. This week’s answer: don’t cook at all.
Mid-summer lends itself to this approach. The CSA box and farmer’s market are packed with produce that can be enjoyed with little alteration beyond a few knife strokes. Perfect fodder for an easy-assembled, quickly devoured lunch.
My summer market sandwich lends itself to endless variations. The critical ingredients:
- Fresher than fresh produce;
- Good bread with texture, crust, and interest (I had Nashoba Brook’s Slow Rise Raisin Bread on hand); and
- If you have a well-stocked pantry – or are lucky enough to have access to a great market – a superlative spread to tie everything together.
The morning of this sandwich creation, I visited Sofra Bakery & Cafe, my personal kryptonite. Run by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick, two of the Boston-area’s most impressive chefs, Sofra offers savory Mediterranean treats, a creative drink menu, and the best chocolate chunk cookie around. It’s also part of the Siena Farms family (source of our CSA share), as Sortun is married to Chris Kurth, the farm’s owner. Searching the prepared food case for an easy treat to jump-start my lunch, I happened upon Moroccan-style goat cheese: toasted almonds, golden raisins, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt. Yum.
Putting it all together: lightly toast the bread and spread the goat cheese generously. Top with vegetables. I recommend greens over the cheese, with a crunchy filling. I used Salanova “incised-leaf” lettuce from the Siena share. Despite looking like frisée endive, Salanova is sweet, somewhat like a frilly cross between romaine and butter lettuce.
For crunch, I added my favorite of the summer market finds – purple beauty peppers. I love the deep, dark exterior, cut open to reveal contradting light green flesh. I am definitely an eater with my eyes too. Thinly sliced Persian cucumbers, also a farmer’s market score, rounded out the sandwich. It was easily assembled in under five minutes, with not an oven in sight.
Construction project: zero; summer harvest: one.