Over the course of my own “waiting period,” there’s been one go-to snack that has never let me down. It’s simple, it’s quick and it’s delicious. It’s the grilled cheese sandwich.
After thumbing through Alison Lewis’s “150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches,” I decided it was about time to test out my culinary skills, or lack thereof. This cookbook was the perfect opportunity to schedule a long-overdue date night with my kitchen.
I opted for two sandwiches from two completely different ends of the spectrum — the Grilled Cheese Pizza Sandwich, a palate I was more familiar with, and the Prosciutto and Melon Grilled Cheese, of which I was a bit more skeptical.
I spent about 15 minutes total on each, preparing and grilling. I kicked things off in my comfort zone with the pizza sandwich. Preparation was simple and straightforward — I started with a piece of bread and just layered the sauce, pepperoni and cheese, and topped off with a second layer of marinara.
The prosciutto version took a few more minutes to prepare, but was basically just as simple. Before layering, though, I got to try my hand at thinly slicing the melon, cheese and prosciutto. Then I just topped off with balsamic vinegar and, voila! Your “adult-ified” grilled cheese is ready for the press. To my surprise, I enjoyed the two versions equally. Quite a shock, considering my taste buds have never been too keen on new tastes.
After my success with these vamped-up versions of my favorite snack, I’ve been inspired to trek on in the search for my inner Martha Stewart. Next I might test my skills on one of Lewis’ grilled cheese desserts. She truly does know 150 ways to refine this cafeteria classic into a couth canapé — even for us beginners.
GRILLED CHEESE PIZZA SANDWICH
8 slices Italian bread
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup basil pesto
¼ cup marinara sauce
6 ounces sliced pepperoni
4 slices mozzarella cheeses
Brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil. Place on a work surface, oiled side down. Spread 4 bread slices equally with pesto and the other 4 with 1 teaspoon of the marinara. Top marinara with pepperoni and cheese. Cover with remaining bread slices, oiled side out, and press together gently.
Place sandwiches on preheated panini grill or in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, turning once if using a skillet, for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Slice each sandwich into 4 slices for appetizer servings.
PROSCIUTTO AND MELON GRILLED CHEESE
8 slices sourdough bread (½-inch thick slices)
¼ cup olive oil
4 teaspoons honey
12 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 cup thinly sliced honeydew melon
4 slices Havarti cheese
4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil. Place on a work surface, oiled side down. Spread 4 bread slices equally with honey. Top equally with prosciutto, melon slices and Havarti. Drip equally with balsamic vinegar. Cover with remaining bread slices, oiled side up, and press together gently.
Place sandwiches in preheated panini grill or in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, turning once if using a skillet, for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Slice each sandwich into 4 slices for appetizer servings. Serve immediately.
— “150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches,” by Alison Lewis