Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer in a Sandwich

Nothing says summer than fresh red tomatoes and basil. We’ll be seeing a lot of this in the coming weeks at the farmers’ markets. The classic thing to do is make a Caprese salad, which is simply tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Last year I turned it into a risotto, which I’ve made again and still find it really lovely to eat. But I also decided to try making a Caprese-inspired grilled sandwich.

I started with some Acme bread. You could try their ciabatta rolls, but I just bought a loaf of the “Upstairs” bread. I drizzled some olive oil on the sides that’ll face the inside of the sandwich and placed that side down on a hot grill pan. (You can skip this step, but I like my sandwich as crunchy as possible.) It’ll take just a couple of minutes to grill up.

Then I layered the ingredients, starting with a very thin layer of mozzarella slices, then some fresh basil leaves and then some tomato slices. (I sprinkled some sea salt or fleur de sel on top of the tomatoes for some flavor.) Then I capped it off with another layer of mozzarella. I figured the cheese helps keep the sandwich together, so I wanted cheese on both slices of bread. Who doesn’t want more cheese?

I drizzled olive oil on the outside of the bread slices and placed the entire sandwich on the hot grill pan. If you have a panini press, then even better. If not, then you have to be like me and gently flip your sandwich after a couple of minutes to do the other side. I used a spatula to help me maneuver the flip, which turned out a bit tougher than I thought given the size of the sandwich. Once I flipped it, then I used the bottom of a heavy pot to act as a press, and continued cooking for another minute.

So as you can tell, grilled cheese sandwich ala Caprese is pretty easy to make and makes a nice lunch during the summer. (Although the juices from the tomatoes can make it a bit messy.) I can’t wait to start trying this sandwich with the various heirloom tomatoes soon to hit the markets. Enjoy!


Carroll said...

Oooh, oooh! I can help with that flipping techique, Chef Ben!

I had horrible problems with it too until I discovered how simple it is to slap a plate upside down over the sandwich, lift up the grill, turn the whole thing over, and then transfer the sandwich from the plate onto the grill again with a spatula.

Easy :-)

I missed our local farmer's market here today and you've got me drooling over those tomatoes. Might have to hit Whole paycheck this afternoon.

Mrs. L said...

How simple, how wonderful sounding, how I want one right now for lunch!

Chef Ben said...

Thanks Carroll. You smart. :)