On weekends, I occasionally get distracted with projects and errands and forget to eat lunch, leaving me a quivering mass of low blood sugar and belly rumbles by 2PM. As our parents knew all too well, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a perfect pick-me-up for moments like these, offering a quick hit of protein and a satisfying touch of sweet in every bite. Here's a fun grown-up version of PB&J which involves an intriguing mix of miso-laced peanut butter and strawberry/rosemary/black pepper jam. Maybe a little more sophisticated than Mom's usual variety, but oh so delicious! While this sandwich is a delicious snack, it also makes a nice party hors d'oeuvre. Simply spread a piece of bread with the peanut butter-miso mixture and cut into single bite pieces. Dab each piece with some of the strawberry jam and garnish with a tiny spring of rosemary.
It is very important to use a natural peanut butter for this recipe and if it's a bit oily, that's fine. The miso often causes the peanut butter to stiffen, so it's helpful to have it a little runny to start with. It's also important to use unsalted peanut butter as the miso will provide plenty of salt to the mixture. Why use miso? Besides adding the saltiness, miso adds a certain depth and complexity to the peanut butter which is quite nice.
Speaking of which, miso does vary in saltiness, depending on what kind and what brand used. So start with a smaller amount and taste as you go, adding more as needed. Also, while I used a whole grain bread for today's photographs, this sandwich is also delicious on slices of crusty baguette or brioche. And as with the hors d'oeuvre option, it's sometimes nice to serve it open-faced, too.
3 tablespoons strawberry jam
Small pinch of finely chopped fresh rosemary
Small turn of the pepper mill
3 heaping tablespoons no-salt, natural-style peanut butter
1 scant tablespoon light, white miso
1 scant tablespoon butter or peanut oil, as needed
Bread of your choice (I used a whole grain sandwich loaf here)
In a small bowl, mix the jam, rosemary and pepper and set aside.
Mix the peanut butter and miso in a bowl and taste. Adjust accordingly, adding more peanut butter or miso as needed. If the mixture is too crumbly, add a little butter or peanut oil for a softer consistency.
Taste the jam again and add more rosemary or pepper if needed.
Spread peanut butter-miso mixture on a slice of bread, following with the jam mixture. Cover with a second slice of bread and carefully cut into triangles.
• This sandwich is excellent grilled in butter, just as you would a grilled cheese.
• If you like more heat, try adding a fresh chopped chili to the jam.
• Substitute unsalted almond butter for peanut butter ( I almost like the almond butter better than peanut butter!)
• Try other combinations like almond butter-miso with peach/thyme or quince/rosemary jam. The delicious possibilities are endless!
(Image: Dana Velden)