Project Veggie: Day 10 – Gourmet Grilled Cheese

I went to a Greek restaurant once where I ordered flaming cheese.  They poured some sort of alcohol over it and set it on fire.  When the fire when out you had a lump of melted bliss on a plate.  At my house I try not to set things on fire intentionally.  But melted cheese still makes me happy.  I was craving some so I made grilled cheese sandwiches. Whoever invented the sandwich is a genius.  That quick, easy, thrown together lunch (or breakfast or dinner).  A sandwich can be a quickie meal, or it can be art.  Yes…ART!  With a little imagination and a few things from the pantry, you can elevate a humble grilled cheese sandwich to mouth-watering, edible art.

In Taos, New Mexico there used to be a little cafe where I had a grilled mozzarella and olive tapenade sandwich.  I never got the recipe from them but I immediately went home and started experimenting, trying to replicate it.  I don’t know if I got it exactly the same as theirs but I came close and it’s amazing.  Up until then, I thought olive tapenade was just one of those fancy things you ordered in a restaurant for an appetizer.  I had no idea it was so easy to make.  It’s just a paste made from olives, and a few other tasty things.  And who ever thought of putting it on a sandwich?  I don’t know, but whoever it was would get a big smooch right on the lips if they were standing in front of me.

I made a big batch of Olive Tapenade and added sun-dried tomatoes, just for fun and because I had them.  I have lots left so now I guess I’ll just have to find something fun to do with the rest of it.  Hmmm…I feel some experimenting coming on.

Grilled Mozzarella & Olive Tapenade Sandwich

Grilled Mozzarella & Olive Tapenade Sandwich

Sourdough or rustic french bread
Sliced mozzarella cheese (preferably fresh mozzarella)
Olive tapenade (about a tablespoon per sandwich) – Recipe below or you can buy it in the grocery store.

Heat your skillet on medium heat.  Lightly butter one side of both pieces of bread.  Put one down in the pan and cover with mozzarella.  Take the other piece of bread and spread tapenade on the unbuttered side.  Put the olive side down on the cheese.  Cook a couple minutes on each side, until golden brown and melty.

Olive & Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade

I jar pitted kalamata olives
1 tbsp. capers
6-8 sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh basil
1 tsp. orange zest
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Blend all ingredients in a food processor.  Store leftovers in airtight container in the fridge.  It will keep for several weeks.

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