Monday, April 15, 2013

Tribute to Grilled Cheese #1: Ital-Yum Grilled Cheese!

by Jaelyn

Grilled Cheese.  My mouth waters just typing the words.  You know the best thing about "Grilled Cheese?"  It can mean so many different things.  I mean, there are literally hundreds of different kinds of cheeses.  There are also hundreds of types of breads.  And a seemingly limitless amount of toppings and condiments.  That means there are more possibilities for Grilled Cheese combinations than I can count.   Another best thing about Grilled Cheese is that almost everyone has the ingredients for some kind of Grilled Cheese sandwich already in their pantry and fridge.  Go ahead, go check.  I'll bet you a slice of cheese I'm right.  The last best thing about Grilled Cheese?  That's easy.  It's EASY!  Few ingredients, minimal cook time, maximum Yum.  Maxiyum?  :-)

Grilled Cheese Tip #1:  Good Bread (the RIGHT Bread) = Sandwich Magic

Most of us have only ever used one type of bread (regular ol' sandwich bread) for our one type of grilled cheese sandwich.  And it works.  Butter, sandwich bread, American cheese (or Velveeta for the indulgent - you know who you are).  That's a classic.  Comfort on a plate.

BUT (and this is a big but), we are not making your regular ol' Grilled Cheese for this series.  That means regular ol' bread won't cut it.  I will warn you now - you CAN use your grocery store bag o' bread, and it might be good, but it won't be magic.

That being said, I know not everyone lives around the corner from a Whole Foods or a gourmet grocer or a French bakery.  I also know that most of us simply don't have the time or patience to make our own artisan bread at home.  So I will give you my ideal bread recommendation, and then I give you an option that (I think) should be available to everyone.  Sound fair?  I might even throw in a third option if I am feeling really hungry inspired.

Explanation's over.  Let's get Cheesy!

Ital-Yum Grilled Cheese!

Recommended Breads:
1.  Good Olive Bread, or
2.  "Seeduction" Bread (Pictured - from Whole Foods Market), or
3.  Grocery Store Italian or French Bread

Other Ingredients (per sandwich):
  • 1 Tbsp. Pesto - Fresh is best! (recipe here), but also can use store-bought
  • Fresh mozzarella medallions, room temperature (appr. 3 medallions per sandwich).  If medallions are not available, purchase a log of fresh mozzarella and cut 3/8-inch-thick slices.
  • 2 Tbsp. Pasta sauce, hot (I used Giada's Creamy Tomato sauce, available at Target - but any flavorful, good quality sauce will do.  If you love it by itself, you will love it on this sandwich.)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)

Put it Together
1.  Heat your pasta sauce in small saucepan on the stove.  Place a skillet on the stove over medium low heat.
2.  If not already sliced, cut your bread in 1/2-inch slices.
3.  Note:  I don't use butter or oil on my bread for this sandwich, as I prefer a "toasted" flavor.  If you prefer to use oil (recommended if your bread is not particularly moist), brush each piece of bread, on  the side that will touch the skillet only, with olive oil prior at this point.
4.   Spread pasta sauce on one piece of bread and place in the skillet, sauce side up.  Put the room-temperature mozzarella slices atop the sauce, with some space between slices.  Lightly salt the cheese, cover with lid for 2 minutes to warm the cheese.
5.  Spread pesto on one side of a second piece of bread.  Remove lid and place piece, pesto side down, on top of the sandwich.  Immediately flip the sandwich so the new piece of bread is being cooked on the skillet.
 6.  Cook until bottom slice is golden brown, then flip again to continue cooking other side.  Remove when both sides are golden brown and cheese is warm and beginning to melt.  

Serve with a side of greens, then sit back, eat, and enjoy all the gratitude from your satisfied family! :-)

Don't forget, over the next couple of months, I'll be doing a whole SERIES of grilled cheese - along with other recipes - so come back soon! 

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