I’ve always had a reputation for making stunningly good grilled cheese sandwiches. Just ask Laura. She loves them. The way I go about making them is a bit different than most people go about it. While the traditional grilled cheese sandwich consists of two pieces of white bread with some yellow cheese situated between them, I tend to favor some type of a roll as a container, lots of mayo, salt, pepper, some fabulous type of cheese with a few slices of tomato to boot. If the roll has sesame seeds stuck to the outside of it, all the better. Heat up a pan, dump in a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and heat that bad boy up. Now that’s how to make a great grilled cheese sandwich. It’s perfect every time.
Although, believe it or not, I’ve never actually grilled one of these sandwiches. I guess the more appropriate phrase would be fry. I’ve created many fried cheese sandwiches.
This recipe uses the oven as a grill. While you can certainly use your grill if you’ve got it going for some other reason, it’s much simpler and more efficient to use the oven because the entire cook time is only about ten minutes.
My version of this recipe uses a large loaf of Italian bread. I’m not a fan of those fashion breads, such as Focaccia and Ciabatta. I mean, they’re awesome and all, but they happen to be expensive and for the time it takes me to get one of these sandwiches from my lips to my belly, I’d rather go with a more legitimately sized and less expensive version of almost the same thing. I know, I know, they aren’t the same thing, but when you see what’s going on with this recipe below, trust me when I tell you that your focus won’t be on the bread. It’ll be on what’s inside of it.
The pesto in this recipe adds some nice flavor. The Brie cheese adds a velvety texture, while the Swiss, tomato and balsamic vinegar drive all the flavor home. There aren’t many ingredients with this one, but when it comes to flavor, the combination of what’s there works well to satisfy.
Lastly, I’d like to thank Curtis Stone and his cookbook called What’s For Dinner? for the inspiration behind this recipe. Although I made many changes, I still got the idea from him.
Makes: 1 Large Sandwich (cut into 6 pieces)
5 Medium Sized Ripe Plum Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
Ground Black Pepper
1 Loaf Italian Bread (wide)
1 Cup Pesto
8 Ounces Swiss Cheese, Shredded
4 Ounces Brie Cheese, Sliced Thin
If you’re a lover of Focaccia or Ciabatta bread, by all means use that with this recipe. There are no rules here – only flavor and texture. Your preference is what matters most.
Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees and arrange the racks so one of them is in the center position.
Prepare the Tomatoes
Trim the tomatoes and cut all of them into 1 inch pieces. Then, place them in a medium sized bowl and add the 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of ground black pepper for flavor. Mix together and let sit until you’re ready for them below.
Cut the Bread & Apply Pesto
Slice the loaf of Italian bread lengthwise and spread the cup of pesto edge to edge on the inside of both pieces.
Add Brie & Swiss Cheese
Add the slices of Brie cheese to only one side of the bread. Add the shredded Swiss cheese to both sides evenly.
Put Bread in Oven
Place the two pieces of Italian bread on the center rack of the oven, cheese side up. Let bake for about 10 minutes or until you see the cheese has completely melted. This step will also ensure the bread has toasted nicely.
Once the bread is out of the oven, go ahead and use a slotted spoon to add the tomatoes to the bottom half of the loaf, leaving the liquid in the bowl behind.
Add Top, Cut & Serve
All that needs to be done now is to add the top of the loaf to the tomatoes, cut the sandwich into 6 pieces and serve.
The Final Sandwich
As you may have already guessed, Laura and I weren’t able to finish this entire sandwich last night. You know what that means – more leftovers, which I absolutely love. This was a really great grilled cheese. If you decide to give it a try, please let me know what you think.
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