Oh my friends, so sorry I’ve been on hiatus. Work has been a circus. Filled with monkeys. Flying monkeys. And no net. And the elephant escaped. And the lion ate all the popcorn. (He’s a vegan lion, so progressive.)
(You think this is a metaphor, well… it is.)
Hopefully your 9-5 isn’t as much of a Ringling-Brothers-Show as mine is. (At least I’m never bored!)
Anyhow, tonight I invited my dear friend Stefanie over for what I like to call “Capresey Grilled Cheesey!” It’s like a caprese salad, but on bread, and grilled. One of my favorite ways to jazz up this american classic.
In Capri, they call it the Zoe Grilled Formaggioey. (Or at least they will.)
Anyhow, without further delay..
Capresey Grilled Cheesey
(I adapted this from the classic we all know and love. No recipe on hand, just created it from the very fibers of my soul.)
Ingredients for two sandwiches:
- 4 slices of your favorite bread (I used recently baked, homemade rye bread… That recipe to follow another day.)
- 2 medium roma tomatoes (The ones you see here are fresh off the vine, homegrown baby!)
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella (As much or as little as you want, you’ll need enough to cover both sides.)
- handful of fresh basil leaves (Dried just won’t do. We have basil growing in our herb garden. Best investment all summer!)
- dash of Balsamic Vinegar (My absolute favorite is Pompeiian Balsamic Vinegar with Pomegranate, as pictured above.)
- pinch of salt
- softened butter (Preferably unsalted, but I accidentally grabbed the wrong kind when I went grocery shopping. Whoops. This is why Ben does the majority of our grocery-picking-upping. I love my man.)
Start with slicing your tomatoes.
Go Pro Tip: Always use a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to cut your tomatoes; you’ll be amazed at how easily it pierces the skin and glides right through. When you’re getting to the end, lay the tomato flat on the cutting board, and slice horizontally. Watch out for your thumb when you get to the edge of the tomato.
Now butter one side of each slice of bread.
(I remember the first time I tried my had at grilled cheese. I was somewhere in the grade-school-range… Third grade maybe? I was with two of my friends, at one of their homes, and we decided we wanted to make grilled cheese. I claimed to know how and went right to it. They got bored watching, and went on to more exciting things. Meanwhile, I couldn’t remember which side needed butter, so I buttered all sides, all the bread, all the butter. You know, butter safe than sorry, right? They were merciless. I’ve since learned, you only butter one side. The outside. Only.)
Put a medium to large (depends on the size of your bread) non-stick skillet on your stovetop, and set the heat a smidge above medium. Time to start assembling that sandwich!
First lay down two slices of bread, buttered side down.
Layer a generous heap of mozzarella cheese, then a single layer of tomatoes. Splash with balsamic, dash with salt, do the cha-cha.
Now add a conservative sprinkling of just a little more cheese to help the basil stick to the tomatoes. You don’t want your two halves winding up in divorce. This is a marriage of food, folks. What the chef has joined together, let no spatula slide apart.
Now take that deliciously fresh basil and lay it on! Finally, one more layer of cheese. (The left side has yet to be assembled. My bad. Ideally, you want to assemble these beloveds like a see-saw, equally balanced.)
Take your other slice of bread, and put it on top, buttered side up.
Now, the secret to your prefect grilled cheese: put a lid on it! (It’s okay to peek.)
I’m a notorious peeker. And flipper. Just like the monkeys at my circus. Wait a few minutes, flip ’em. If they’re not perfectly grilled, that’s just fine. You can flip them again, better to flip too soon and have to flip again than to flip too late and have “reduced calorie” (read: scrape off the burnt parts) grilled cheese.
Once they’re done, slide these beauties onto a plate, cut in half, and try not to burn the roof of your mouth when you eager-beaver bite into it. Seriously. Burnt mouth-roof will totally detract from the amazingness of this masterpiece.
And the best way to really class it up? Enjoy it on the couch, at the lift-up-coffee-table (ours is identical to this one, and I absolutely love it – best garage-sale find ever), while watching the Muppets.
You won’t be disappointed.