A grilled cheese sandwich is pretty far up there in my book as a great comfort food. Toasty, butter bread; gooey, molten cheese; with maybe some brown mustard or a slice of ham tucked inside for variation.
Perfect for a quick supper, an accompaniment to soup, or a warming snack on a cold winter day.
You can change up your bread (white, wheat, rye, potato), you can change up your cheese (provolone, cheddar, gouda, swiss) but I’ll bet that’s as far as many of go as far as rethinking the humble grilled cheese sandwich.
So when I heard about 150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches by Alison Lewis, I was intrigued.
Lewis expands upon the idea of, at it’s simplest, 2* slices of bread and a slice of cheese. Bread is not limited to sliced–tortillas, pitas, and bagels are all fair game–and cheeses are ranked primarily by meltability, though flavor does come into play, of course. and it’s not just for lunch or dinner, anymore! The grilled cheeses in this book will take you from breakfast to dessert, offer flavor combinations with meat, fish, seafood, and poultry, as well as more veggie-centric ones. Just take a look as some of these recipe names and tell me you don’t start to salivate:
- Grilled Goat Cheese and Figs (p.20)
- Strawberry and Marscapone Sandwich (p.26)
- Grilled Cheese Sliders with Carmalized Balsamic Onions (p.55)
- Open-Faced Spinach and Havarti (p.67)
- Grilled Swiss, Artichokes, and Olives (p.88)
- Pastrami and White Cheddar Grilled Cheese (p.108)
- Grilled Turkey and Brie with Apricot (p.127)
- Grilled Spinach, Pepper Jack and Bacon (p.141)
- Muffuletta Grilled Cheese (p.150)
- Crab Mushroom Melts (p.172)
- Tiramisu Grilled Cheese (p.202)
- Dark Chocolate and Banana Grilled Cheese ( p.208)
We decided to try out a few different sandwiches the week surrounding Thanksgiving. Incidentally, many of these grilled cheeses would be perfect for using up leftovers and a great way to stretch your budget!
We started out with the Grilled Huevos Rancheros (p.32). In this case the bread was a flour tortilla and the cheese shredded cheddar, joined by eggs, black beans, olives, and other savory companions. Grilling was done quesadilla-style in a frying pan and, really, what more can you say about a flavorful breakfast burrito. Since it was so obviously a breakfast-inspired dish, we paired it with hash brown potatoes.
The next recipe we tried ventured a little further afield. The Broccoli Cheese Pitas (p. 73) are part of the Light and Healthy chapter, using whole wheat pitas pockets and a mixture of ricotta and feta cheeses along with the titular broccoli. It made for a very filling supper along with quinoa cooked in chicken stock.
Finally, in a fitting tribute to Thanksgiving leftovers, we used some of our delicious turkey for a Grilled Turkey and Brie with Apricot (p.127) sandwich. I adore brie in pretty much any situation, but the combination of the brie with apples, apricot preserves, and turkey on a hearty sourdough bread felt like an indulgence rather than mere leftovers. Definitely our favorite, among the three, it was also the messiest to eat as the apples tend to slide around a bit and not meld with the creamy brie.
At least once a week we have a night where a quick supper is called for and a grilled cheese is definitely a great alternative to take-out. I have a feeling we’ll be delving back into 150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for inspiration on a regular basis.
*The earliest grilled cheese sandwiches were open-faced, almost more like cheese toast than what we’d commonly call a sandwich. The second slice of bread became the rule rather than the exception sometime in the 1960s
I was provided a copy of 150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches by Alison Lewis for purposes of review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.