There’s no reason you have to outgrow grilled cheese sandwiches just because you’re a grown-up now. Besides there’s still something to be said for the comforting, melty deliciousness of American singles on toasty, buttered white bread.
It’s an easy matter, though, to take your grilled cheese sandwiches to a more sophisticated level. When we’re talking about grilled cheese, just about anything goes. The key is combining flavors and textures with luscious cheeses – and, of course, choosing the best bread!
Grilled cheese is a perfect blank canvas for any season. You can showcase the bounty of fresh, summer harvests, from heirloom tomatoes to fresh greens. In the summer, try brushing your sandwich with olive oil and cooking over indirect heat on the grill. Cheese is, of course, a perfect pairing for fall fruits such as apples and pears. In the winter, sautéed mushrooms and heartier fillings make for a perfect, comforting indulgence.
The same principles for putting together a great cheese plate apply to crafting a great grilled cheese. The idea is to complement the cheese with a variety of flavors and textures, from sweet fruits and briny olives to salty, cured meats. Choose your ingredients to achieve balance with the flavor and texture of your cheeses just as you would for a fantastic cheese platter. If you would serve fresh pears with a sumptuous triple crème or Brie on a cheese plate, the same pairing likely works well in a sandwich.
Consider these grilled cheese additions:
- Fresh, sliced pears and apples
- Fruit preserves or compotes
- Balsamic glaze
- Grainy mustard
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Roasted peppers
- Fresh or roasted chiles
- Fresh greens, such as arugula and baby spinach
- Fresh herbs
- Charcuterie (cured meats and salami)
- Greek olives
- Artichoke hearts
- Sliced avocado or guacamole
- Fresh tomatoes
- Sundried tomatoes
- Thinly sliced or caramelized shallots or onions
It doesn’t have to be a complex process to construct a well-balanced, sophisticated grilled cheese. For a quick fix, reach for packaged pesto, olive tapenade, sundried tomato spread, guacamole, chipotle chiles in adobo or bottled roasted red peppers to pack in flavor easily. Even barbecue sauce or honey mustard dressing can be a simple way to add a bit of flavor.
Great Bread for a Great Grilled Cheese
Tender, white sliced bread serves a purpose for the classic grilled American cheese sandwich. But, when you’re packing in flavor and texture, but sure to choose a bread that’s up to the task. A crusty loaf with big, tender holes is a perfect for luscious melted cheese and spreads such as preserves or pesto. A round French loaf or an Italian loaf such as pugliese works well in this instance. A hearty, dense bread or one you can slice horizontally stands up to ingredients with more moisture, such as fresh tomatoes, and works well for heartier fillings. Think of a nutty multigrain or a focaccia. Choose sourdough for robust flavors. A simple country-style loaf is perfect for mild flavors and simpler combinations.
Three Simple Grilled Sandwiches
For quick and simple dressed-up grilled cheese sandwiches, try these combinations.
- Grilled Queso Asadero with Chipotle Chiles and Avocado
- Grilled Cheddar and Heirloom Tomatoes with Bacon
- Grilled Gruyere, Apples and Sage
Grilled Cheese Recipes
For something beyond the basic, give these a try: