I have a new food love in my life: take and bake baguettes. Have you seen them in your grocery store? They're usually hidden on the bottom shelf in the deli or bakery section, below the baked breads. Cheap, pale and often overlooked, this is one of the best culinary secrets in the grocery.
My passion for fresh-out-of-the-oven baguettes started with my summer-long residency in Paris, where you could turn a corner and smell perfectly baked breads beckoning you into a shop. Every morning, one of us would stroll a few doors down from our apartment and purchase a hot, freshly baked baguette to munch on for the rest of the day. We'd smear it with softened butter and jam for breakfast, slice it for midday sandwiches, and break it off and dip it in herbs and oils or pair it with cheese before dinner. We quickly learned that one was not enough, so we'd buy two or three depending on the day.
Alas, I don't have a bakery around the corner here in my hometown. But ever since I found the take and bake baguettes and club sandwich rolls at the local grocery, I've been elated. Almost half the price of prebaked artisan baguettes, these delicious breads can't be beat for home-baked flavor and texture.
Today's recipe combines the take and bake roll with chicken, fresh mozzarella and intense pesto to create an amazing oven-fresh baked sandwich. If you can't find take and bake rolls, then a regular baked sandwich roll works well. Just wrap the sandwich completely in foil, so as to not overbake the roll. Enjoy!
Suggested menu: Chicken "Caprese" Sub with chips and fresh fruit
• Alicia Ross is the co-author of the "Desperation Dinners!" cookbook series. Write her at Kitchen Scoop, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or firstname.lastname@example.org. More at kitchenscoop.com.