Chorizo, Lettuce, Basil & Swiss

On a glorious, warm Sunday with clear blue skies, I found myself walking towards Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA with one mission in mind: to make a summer sandwich with local vegetables and meat. I began my quest at the Cambridge Charles Square Farmers Market, located on the corner of Eliot and Bennett Street, outside The Charles Hotel. Open Fridays from noon to 6 pm and Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm, this is a perfect place to grab fresh, local groceries on the weekend. I suggest going as early as possible, as many of the most popular foods sell out early!

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My first stop was the stand of Hi-Rise Bread Company. Hi-Rise, a Cambridge favorite, offers a large selection of freshly baked sourdough, rye, and other pretty-looking loafs. After a short wait in line, I asked employees for advice on a good sandwich bread to pair with chorizo. They recommended the Classic Baguette Parisienne, and I was enticed by its’ description, which read “made with flour milled exclusively for us, formed completely by hand, triple fermented, and baked in our brick oven.” With a firm, crispy crust, and light, fluffy crumb, the baguette was going to be perfect for my sandwich.

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For produce, I looked to Grateful Farm, a Franklin, MA farm that has been selling organic, locally-grown herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers since 1983. As I perused the produce, friendly staff members offered taste tests of their beautiful, fresh vegetables and herbs. After taste-testing a satisfyingly crunchy leaf, I decided on the fresh lettuce, which was conveniently pre-washed and ready-to-serve, as well as a small plant of Thai Basil. Grateful Farm’s purveyors recommended the Thai Basil as a nice, cool, and slightly sweet contrast to spicy chorizo. I was excited to learn that Grateful Farm’s inexpensive, potted basil plants, and other herbs, are easily planted in your backyard, roof garden or a windowsill box. A perfect choice for fresh herbs all summer long!

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Next, I turned to the Stillman’s at the Turkey Farm stand, finding a extensive bounty of local meats for sale. I started feeling quite hungry reading over the descriptions of lamb chops, pork sausages, and beef steaks. The chorizo I eventually ordered came straight from a cooler, in a vacuum sealed bag with packaging that clearly stated the ingredients used in the sausages. With a helpful recommendation to bring a cup or so of water to a simmer in a pan before adding the chorizo, I left in search of my final ingredient, cheese!

Happy with the success I had in finding most of the ingredients I needed with just one stop at the Farmers Market, I didn’t mind the walk to the wonderful Formaggio Kitchen in Huron Village. Formaggio is a food lover’s paradise, run by a passionate and knowledgeable staff that takes great care in choosing their products. As the summer heats up, I recommend visiting the Formaggio grill, which serves food outside the store front Saturdays, 11 am – 6pm, all summer. You can even call ahead and place an order for pick-up! Formaggio seemed like the perfect place to go for my final ingredient, as the store is known for its basement cheese caves. I asked for a local swiss cheese, and was recommended the Robinson Family Swiss, a sweet, creamy cheese that would prove the ideal companion for my spicy chorizo. A fourth-generation family operation, Robinson Farm in Hardwick, MA first opened in 1892. Happy to choose a cheese from a family farm that has been in operation for over 120 years, and very hungry at this point, I headed home to prepare my sandwich.

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Laying out my ingredients, I got to work preparing my summer treat. First, I put water on to simmer in a medium sized frying pan, adding in a dash of olive oil, some pepper and salt along with two of my chorizo links. It is important to remember to pierce each chorizo with a fork three or four times, depending on the size, before you put your sausages in the pan. I simmered my sausages on medium heat for about ten minutes before dumping out the water and frying them for a few minutes, to brown them on all sides. Next, I cut a portion of baguette off and sliced it most of the way through the middle, leaving a connection on one side for easy sandwich assembly. I added a few drops of olive oil to moisten the bread, lay down the Robinson’s Family Swiss in thin strips, and sprinkled the cheese with basil. Soon, my chorizo was cooked through and brown all around, so I sliced it lengthwise into sandwich-sized strips. Laying a bed of Grateful Farm lettuce over my chorizo,  I closed the baguette and added two toothpicks to help hold it together. Finally, I sat down to eat!

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The sweet swiss cheese and the cool, aromatic basil were perfect companions to my spicy chorizo, and the crunchy lettuce and fresh bread completed the package. A perfect meal for a summer evening, my sandwich was filling without feeling too heavy. I felt great knowing that I could find such fresh, local ingredients in the heart of Cambridge, thanks to the convenient Charles Square Farmers Market!

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