Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's for Lunch: Tomato & Cheese Sandwich

Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook

In stark contrast to the daily litany of processed, re-heated frozen foods we saw last year, D.C. schools and their hired food service management company--Chartwells--are making more food from scratch since the new term began. Here's a case in point: a sandwich made of freshly sliced local tomatoes and grated mozzarella cheese between two slices of whole wheat bread, toasted in the oven.

What a difference from the processed "Hot off the Grill" sandwich kids got for lunch in the past, made in a factory in Los Angeles, shipped frozen, then heated and served while still in its plastic packaging. That seems to be one of the items that got the heave-ho over the summer when Food Services Director Jeffrey Mills and his team tested some 300 products and helped Chartwells write a completely new menu.

Also quite attractive are the peas (from frozen) mixed with tomato chopped fresh in the kitchen. (Chartwells' published menu called for "marinated Mediterranean chick pea salad.") But as if to prove the point that kids have a hard time with vegetables, take a look at the green stuff in the upper left-hand corner. That's what the frozen broccoli looks like after it comes out of the steamer. I've seen even worse--when you can't even recognize it as broccoli any more.

The locally grown nectarine from Crown Orchards in Batesville, Va., was truly delicious.

And here's the alternate cold lunch on Tuesdays these days: "Turkey and cheese whole grain wrap with lettuce and tomato.

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