My entire childhood seemed to revolve around pizza.
Birthday Party? Pizza.
Field trip? Pizza.
Sleeping over at a friends house? Pizza.
Everywhere I went, I couldn’t escape it, and yet there I was, probably the only kid in elementary school who resented a perfectly cooked combo of cheese and tomato sauce.
It didn’t make much sense. Cheese and tomato were (and still are) two of my favorite ingredients. But I quickly became “that girl” who was always singled out for needing to eat something different than everyone else..
Though my taste buds have matured since elementary school, at the time I was eager to discover an alternative to pizza, something that I could make my own. Something that was just as simple and yet equally as satisfying when it came in the form of a nice, comforting slice.
“My pizza,” inevitably, became grilled cheese.
There is something about grilled cheese that I just cannot resist. Maybe it’s the combo of melted cheese between perfectly toasted bread, or maybe it’s the fact that I can successfully prepare a grilled cheese without burning my house down. Regardless, the sandwich has been a favorite of mine since childhood and continues to fulfill my stomach’s cravings at any time of day (shout out to the Deece panini maker).
However, though my maturing taste buds still find grilled cheese mouthwatering, they’ve begun to want something a little more. The classic grilled cheese— while satisfying when I’m feeling nostalgic— no longer does it for me. Today, I have discovered what I like to consider my very own “grown up” after school snack: mini Caprese grilled cheese sandwiches.
Ironically, this unique combo incorporates all the ingredients which make both grilled cheese and pizza so special: bread, tomatoes and cheese toasted to absolute perfection.
Despite its similarity to pizza, in the best way possible, the dish somehow tastes like a fancy tomato and mozzarella hors d’oeuvres and my middle school meal staple all at the same time. With that, this bite of goodness has the potential to impress even a picky adult palate while being prepared successfully by a fearful chef like me..
No matter what you stuff into your grilled cheese, it ultimately all comes down to the bread. While your elementary school grilled cheese might have been just fine on a slice of Wonder Bread, I recommend a French baguette for this recipe.
Each slice should be cut from the loaf to be around 1/8 of an inch thick, which leaves just enough thickness for the bread to absorb the tomato’s juices and the melting mozzarella.
Next, cut both the mozzarella cheese (preferably fresh) and tomatoes into thinly sliced circles. In addition to the cheese and tomato, reserve some basil for the sandwich after it has been washed and dried.
After preparing the crucial components, it is time to assemble the sandwich. Before piling on the flavor remember to lightly season the bread with salt and pepper. The first layer of the sandwich is the tomato which tastes best when accompanied by a couple of fresh basil leaves.
At last, sprinkle the tomato and basil combo with the mozzarella before putting the two slices together. Before you put it on the pan, butter the baguette both so it doesn’t stick to the pan and so it gets that nice golden-brown toast that all well-made grilled cheese’s have.
In your final steps before devouring this decadent combination of a grilled cheese, place a frying pan on medium heat. Add some non-stick spray or a tad of olive oil to ensure that the sandwich will be willing to part from the pan even if the butter you added doesn’t work. Depending on your preference, toast each side of the sandwich anywhere from 3-5 minutes, and remember: Only flip the sandwich once!
As the mozzarella begins to ooze over the bread and the basil aroma circulates throughout your kitchen, remove the sandwich from the pan, slice it in half, put it on a plate, and enjoy.
*1 fresh baguette (one baguette loaf makes 12-14 mini sandwiches)
* 1 pound fresh mozzarella
* 2-3 fresh grown tomatoes
* 25-30 fresh basil leaves
* salt and pepper
*butter and/or olive oil