Do you read recipes and think: “Mmmm. That looks good. I think I’ll make it.” And then you don’t. I’ve been curious about the “What to Make Next Week” dishes that the Times publishes each Saturday. The dishes should be delicious and pretty easy in terms of effort and time. Two recipes that I thought would make a nice lunch had been on my mind for a while. I finally made them: tomato toasts and a white chicken chili. They both lived up to expectations. A lunch on the light side usually consists of a sandwich paired with soup or a main dish. The toasts and chili seemed just right for our current weather, still warm and a bit summery with hints of fall and cooler temps.
Tomato Cheddar Toasts
This recipe combines that super summer treat, fresh local tomatoes along with a nod to the cool to come with toasted bread. Summer tomatoes have perfect companions in mayo and cheese. The recipe intrigues because the mayo and cheese are mixed together. Pure joy. And simple as can be.
Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 toasts
2 ripe medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup packed/2 ounces finely grated extra-sharp Cheddar
4 slices crusty bread
Arrange the tomatoes on a plate and sprinkle with salt. Stir together the mayonnaise, Cheddar and a pinch of salt.
Toast the bread however you like. Right when the bread’s hot and ready, slather with the Cheddar mayonnaise. (Extra mayonnaise will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.) Top with the tomatoes and devour.
I had no idea how delicious the combination of mayo and cheese would be. It was no surprise that it would work well with tomato. But the combination with warm toast produced delightful contrasts of temperature and texture. The toast is warm, the rest is room temperature. The toast is crisp, the mayo soft, the tomato a bit firm.
Note: I used English muffins for bread and substituted pepper Jack cheese because it was a match to the chili.
White Chicken Chili
The recipe struck me as interesting and admirably healthy. It was not a pretty dish as you can see but adding a topping can improve that.
Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 5 cloves)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sweet paprika or chili powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste (such as Diamond Crystal)
Freshly cracked black pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 (4-ounce) cans diced green chiles
2½ to 3 cups cooked shredded chicken (from 1 roast chicken or rotisserie chicken)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
Half a lime, plus lime wedges for serving
Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, pickled jalapeño slices, diced avocado, sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro and crushed tortilla chips, for serving (optional)
In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño and cook, stirring often, until the onions are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
Add the chicken broth, cannellini beans and diced green chiles with their liquid; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth has reduced by about half, 18 to 20 minutes. Off the heat, use a wooden spoon to mash some of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue mashing the beans until the broth is noticeably thicker.
Return the pot to medium, stir in the chicken and corn, and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Juice the lime half over the pot, then taste for seasonings and add more salt, black pepper, and cayenne, if desired.
Serve the chili in bowls topped as you like with a lime wedge, shredded cheese, pickled jalapeños, diced avocado, sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro, and/or crushed tortilla chips.
A keeper. The dish has all the spicy, savory goodness of chili con carne. You finish eating with a stomach that feels warm, full and gratified. It is best to make the chili a few hours in advance so the flavors meld and just as good made the day before or frozen.