Grilled Mozzarella and Red Peppers Sandwich

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This sandwich screams FRESHNESS, as it is made with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil pesto and oven roasted red sweet bell peppers drizzled balsamic vinegar. With layers of flavor, it is the perfect sandwich for a Meatless Monday lunch option.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 red sweet bell pepper
1 Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Ball
2 slices of Provolone Cheese
4 slices Italian bread
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Vegetable cooking spray

For the Fresh Basil Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt, more to taste
freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500° F .

Place the red bell peppers on a rimmed backing sheet. Lightly coat the peppers with the vegetable spray and place in the heated oven. Allow the peppers to roast for about 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate it at about the 7 minute mark and remove when all sides have charred black. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow them to cool. When the red peppers have cooled to the touch, remove the charred skin by using a clean tea towel. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds, then julienne the roasted peppers.

Using a sharp knife, thinly slice six pieces of cheese from the mozzarella ball.

To prepare the pesto spread: Pulse basil and pine nuts in a food processor: Place the basil leaves and pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a several times.

Add the garlic and Parmesan or Romano cheese and pulse several times more. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.

While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream. Adding the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, will help it emulsify and help keep the olive oil from separating. Occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor. Stir in salt and freshly ground black pepper, add more to taste. cover and set aside.

Set the oven to 450 ° F.

Take 4 slices of Italian bread and spread the pesto on one side.

Lay a slice of provolone ontop of the pesto.

Take one slice and with the pesto side up and layer with the julienned red pepper first.

Use a brush and lightly coat the top of the red pepper with 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar.

Add three slices of Mozzarella cheese ontop of the peppers and close the with another bread slice. The pesto side should be touching the mozzarella. Repeat the process for the second sandwich.

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high. Melt the butter until it is lightly foaming. Gently place the sandwiches in the melted butter.

Fry the sandwiches for about 2 to 4 minutes on medium heat, as it the bread become golden brown. Using spatula flip the sandwich over until the bread is crispy and golden brown, for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Continue to cook the sandwiches in the oven, by placing the skillet sandwich in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes. Cook until the cheese is melted and slightly oozing from the bread. Remove from the oven.

Using a spatula, place a sandwich on a plate and serve immediately.

 

 

Cook’s Note:
Basil pesto oxidizes (darkens) when exposed to air, so to store, cover tightly with plastic wrap making sure the plastic is touching the top of the pesto and not allowing the pesto to have contact with air, making a complete seal. The pesto will stay greener longer that way. The pest will keep for about 2 weeks.

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Broccolini Grilled Cheese

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Photo Credit: Plated.com

Recipe Adapted from Plated.com

2018

Serves 2

Ingredients
For the sandwiches:
olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
6 ounces broccolini
1/4 pint grape tomatoes
1 shallot
1/4 cup sliced pepperoncini
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 slices sourdough bread
2 ounces shredded white Cheddar cheese

For the salad:
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon honey
3 ounces spring mix lettuce

Directions:
To prepare the ingredients: Rinse all produce. Trim and discard woody bottoms of broccolini, then cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces. Halve tomatoes. Peel shallot, halve, and thinly slice.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add pepperoncini, broccolini, shallot, salt, and pepper as desired. Cook, stirring occasionally, until broccolini is tender and lightly browned, 3-4 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and set aside. Wipe pan clean and reserve for cooking sandwiches.

To assemble the grilled cheese, spread mayonnaise over 1 side of bread slices, then flip. Sprinkle half of white Cheddar over plain sides of 2 bread slices, then top with sautéed vegetables and remaining white Cheddar. Finish with remaining bread slices, mayonnaise-side up, pressing lightly.

Place pan from vegetables over medium heat. Carefully hover your hand a few inches away from the pan—when you can easily feel heat, add sandwiches. Place a medium heavy pan or large plate on top and cook until bread is golden and cheese is melted, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board.

Meanwhile, as the sandwiches cook, in a large bowl, whisk together sherry vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper as desired. Whisking continuously, slowly add 2 tablespoons olive oil until fully combined. Pat spring mix dry with paper towel, then add to bowl with dressing, along with tomatoes, waiting to toss until ready to serve.

To serve, halve broccolini grilled cheese sandwiches on a diagonal and divide between serving plates. Serve with salad on the side.


Hello, April 2019!

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April is National Grilled Cheese Month and what better way to celebrate then with some grilled cheese sandwiches paired with the Spring produce of the moment.

Cooking with the seasons means choosing fruits and vegetables that are at the peak of freshness and flavor. For the purposes of freshness, April is a fabulous month with many fresh options.

It should be noted that buying locally grown produce is always the best option. Local produce is less likely to be damaged, uses less energy to transport, and ripens more naturally. In fact, when fruits and vegetables have been allowed to ripen on the vine for consumption, it can taste sweeter and have significantly more intense flavor. And, locally sourced produce helps the local economy as well.

Whether your favorite cheese is Gouda, Mozzarella, Provolone, creamy goat cheese or just a plain old slice of Kraft American Cheese, there are a number of fruits and vegetables that can be used creatively in this classic sandwich. You can also use mushrooms. Although Mushrooms are neither a fruit or vegetable, technically, they are not even a plant but a fungus. Yes, a fungus that you eat. Although, they are often classified with vegetables, since, it is definitely not an animal. Chives can also add a nice flavor to grilled cheese. Technically, they are in the onion family but are more often used as an herb more than anything else. Sourdough, wheat, rye brioche and even plain old white bread works as the basic holders for this sandwich. And whether you use butter or mayonnaise to get that perfect crispy crunch, make sure your skillet or grilled press is hot!

This month we will feature a different twist on this iconic sandwich each week. Whatever you like and what ever you choose, you certainly will be delight.

Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables for April

Artichokes
Arugula
Asparagus
Beets
Carrots
Cauliflower
Chicory
Chives
Celery
Cucumbers
Dandelion Greens
Fava beans
Fiddleheads
Horseradish
Leeks
Lettuce
Limes
Morel Mushrooms
Oranges
Papaya
Parsnips
Peas
Ramps
Rhubarb
Scallions
Spinach
Shallots
Strawberries
Sweet Onions
Turnips
Watercress