Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A great way to take advantage of fresh, local strawberries, this strawberry balsamic grilled cheese sandwich is an updated childhood classic meant for grownups. Don’t worry, it’s still wonderful comfort food!

I saw a similar recipe on social media and decided I had to try it.  They used blackberries, but I figured strawberries would work just as well, and I had just a few local summer strawberries left (since the season was delayed by wet weather).  The original post I saw didn’t specify what cheese to use.  The internet suggested a strawberry balsamic brie sandwich, but I didn’t have brie either.  So, I used smoked gouda instead. The gooey, melty, smoky gouda, the tart vinegar, and the sweet strawberries combine for a salty-sweet-tangy burst of flavor. Plus, some crunch from the grilled bread.

You can use the gouda, or brie, or any mild cheese that melts well for this. If you don’t have strawberries, use blackberries instead.  I made this with rye bread, but any crusty bread would work well. Ciabatta would likely be great (it makes wonderful grilled cheese sandwiches), because it absorbs the oil’s flavor and turns a beautiful golden brown without getting greasy.

There are lots of different opinions on how to grill cheese sandwiches (or toast them if you are in the UK).  Some butter the bread, others slather on mayonnaise (no  no no).  I prefer to just cook them in a mixture of butter and oil.  The oil has a higher smoking point than butter does (so it’s less likely to burn).  The butter adds extra flavor.




Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich Substitutions and Variations

  • use blackberries or raspberries instead of strawberries (blueberries might work too, but they’re harder to cut up)
  • try brie, goat cheese, or Monterey Jack instead of gouda
  • experiment with crusty breads such as ciabatta or a hearth loaf
  • toss in a few fresh basil leaves
  • add some black pepper to the strawberry/balsamic mixture

More Sandwich Recipes

three cheese grilled cheese sandwichThree Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Rich, melty gooey and wonderful comfort food. This sandwich has not one or two, but three cheeses.

 

chicken caprese salad paniniChicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

Grilled cheese for adults. It’s got chicken, tomatoes, basil, and toasted, melty cheese…yum!

 

bacon spinach tomato aioli sandwichBacon Spinach Tomato Aioli Sandwich Recipe

Bacon! We’re obsessed with it. We eat it on everything (pasta, sandwiches, even ice cream). This sandwich has an extra kick from the aioli (garlicky mayonnaise). Don’t worry, there’s an easy trick to make your own.

vegetarian eggplant sandwichVegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person

So maybe you don’t want bacon. Try this vegetarian sandwich with tender eggplant, crisp and crunchy Israeli salad, and hummus.

 




Chicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

Caprese salad meets the classic grilled cheese sandwich with a bit of roast chicken added and poof, you’ve got a chicken caprese salad panini. Perfect when you’re in a hurry and want something to eat fast! This chicken caprese salad sandwich feels rich and decadent, but you don’t need to invest a lot of time or effort to make it.  You don’t really even have to measure much of anything.

The market had some beautiful Campari tomatoes on sale, right next to the fresh mozzarella.  I couldn’t resist.  So, I put that together with some basil, leftover roast chicken, and a fresh loaf of ciabatta bread. Voila! The chicken caprese salad panini sandwich.

I started with leftover roast chicken, so I didn’t need to make the chicken.  If you already have cooked chicken, just pop it into the sandwich.  Some leftover rotisserie chicken would work nicely. All you have to do now is grill the bread, melt the cheese, and add the tomatoes and basil.

If not, see the substitutions and variations section below for ideas on how to cook the chicken.

The bread does tend to slurp up the olive oil, but really it’s worth it! The sandwich gets golden brown, and the cheese is gooey and melty. It’s your favorite childhood grilled cheese sandwich for grownups!

Do use the fresh mozzarella if you can get it. It’s far more flavorful (and I think it melts better) than the pre-packaged kind.




Substitutions and Variations for Chicken Caprese Panini Sandwich

  • Saute some mushrooms (do that first) and add them to the sandwich at the end.
  • Start with fresh chicken breasts (season with salt/pepper/balsamic vinegar/olive oil) then gently cook in olive oil
  • Or, season the chicken with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Cook that in a bit of olive oil
  • Add some avocado
  • Get an extra serving of veggies and put in a few spinach leaves
  • Or, try cooking it in the broiler instead (less oil needed)

More Sandwich Recipes

Bacon Spinach Tomato Aioli Sandwich Recipe

Three Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person

 




Bacon Spinach Tomato Aioli Sandwich Recipe

Mmmm bacon….We’re obsessed with it.  We have bacon appetizers, bacon cocktails, and even bacon ice cream.  And now, meet the bacon spinach tomato aioli sandwich, a slightly different twist on the tried-and-true BLT.

I made this with Trader Joe’s uncured bacon (which is delicious; get the bacon ends if you can and save some money).   I tend to use spinach far more than lettuce, because it’s more versatile. You can cook with it, as well as use it in salads.  So, I reached for that rather than lettuce.

Then, I added some mini bell peppers. The sweetness and crunch of the peppers makes a nice foil for the salty bacon.

Finally, I decided to ditch the standard mayo in favor of aioli (which is mayo with garlic, some lemon juice, olive oil, and a bit of cayenne pepper).

If you are ambitious, and want to make your own aioli from scratch you can do that.  It’s delicious, and freshly made mayonnaise is far tastier than the stuff in the jar.

On the other hand, it doesn’t keep nearly as well, and making (and eating) a whole batch is a bit much for one person. Of course, you can always use the leftover aioli for french fries (like they do in Belgium) or as a dip for crudités.

I like to take the jarred mayonnaise and then add fresh ingredients to brighten the flavor so it tastes a bit more like homemade. That way, there’s no leftovers to worry about.




Substitutions and Variations for Bacon Spinach Tomato Aioli Sandwich

  • Add more heat with sriracha instead of just cayenne
  • Chop some basil or cilantro and incorporate it into the aioli sauce
  • Make it a bit lighter by using half mayo and half Greek yogurt
  • Prepare the aioli in advance so the flavors have more time to blend

 

Thick Cut Bacon

Make your sandwich even better with thick-cut bacon. Choose either natural (humanely raised with no antibiotics, and a vegetarian diet), or heritage.  Heritage pork is more flavorful and less fatty than standard pork.  You can even choose your farm (and check exactly what goes into your bacon).

More Sandwich Recipes

vegetarian eggplant sandwichVegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person

Israeli salad, plus eggplant, and hummus and you have a delicious easy meal.

 

three cheese grilled cheese sandwichThree Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Why settle for only one kind of cheese when you can have three?  Ooey, gooey melty and delicious. Just the comfort food you need right now.

 

chicken caprese salad panini

Chicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

Crispy, golden brown, and delicious! Transform a caprese side salad into a complete meal with chicken and sandwich fixings.

 

strawberry balsamic grilled cheeseStrawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

You probably didn’t expect strawberries and balsamic vinegar in a sandwich, did you?  The tangy vinegar complements the sweet strawberries and enhances their flavor too.  And, of course, cheese nearly always makes everything better.




Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person

One of the things I like about cooking is that you can take one recipe or meal and transform it into something else entirely.  For example, this vegetarian eggplant sandwich is a variation on the sabich sandwich eaten in Iraq and Israel.  First, I made another batch of the Israeli salad recipe from two weeks ago (the original way, with lemon and bell pepper instead of the mint and lime), and then I added pita, fried eggplant, hummus, spinach, and a hard boiled egg.

And voila! A side dish is now a full meal. The spinach isn’t traditional, but I had some handy and I figured it would go well with the other ingredients.

It makes a great lunch (or light dinner), without a lot of fussing. You hard boil the egg, fry the eggplant and onion, and then just stuff everything into the pita.  You can even follow local tradition and eat it for breakfast on a weekend morning; it has eggs, it must be breakfast food).

Some versions of this sandwich use Israeli pickles and pickled mango sauce. These are both probably delicious, but I didn’t add them because I hate buying large containers of ingredients only to use a few spoonfuls. If you don’t mind that, or plan to eat a lot of sandwiches, you can find both on Amazon.




Substitutions and Variations for Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich

  • Add the pickles and the mangos
  • Layer in some tahini sauce
  • Shred some cabbage and put that between the layers
  • Include bell pepper (about one mini pepper) in the Israeli salad
  • Try some jalapeño for extra heat

More Eggplant Recipes

pasta alla norma with eggplantPasta alla Norma with Eggplant

Take advantage of fresh summer eggplant with this mildly spicy pasta dish. Tender eggplant, a quick tomato sauce, and you’re ready to eat in about 20 minutes.

 

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Lightly fried eggplant, rich tomato sauce, and melted mozzarella makes a dinner that’s a lot easier than you may think.

 

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A takeout standout that you can easily make at home.  And it’s a lot faster than going out for the takeout would be.

 


rosemary olive oil broiled eggplant
Rosemary Olive Oil Broiled Eggplant

An easy side dish that’s ready in minutes. Great with lamb or chicken.

 




Peanut Butter and Cucumber on Rye Bread

We’re all familiar with the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You can even get them pre-made! It’s classic American childhood food, and it’s comforting. This peanut butter and cucumber sandwich on rye bread is not so familiar. It comes with a twist.

Now, you may think I’m nuts (sorry), but try this experiment.  Replace the jam on your sandwich with thinly sliced cucumber.

Then, replace the classic white bread with rye bread. You want the kind of rye that’s got a good crust and seeds.  I’ve seen rye that’s more like dark whole wheat. That just won’t do.

Suddenly, your old-fashioned childhood sandwich is much more sophisticated.  The cucumber adds sweetness and crunch which complements the salty, smooth peanut butter beautifully.

My mom invented this sandwich long ago and it’s become a family favorite.

You don’t really need a formal recipe for this (any more than you need one for old-fashioned PB and J).  All you need is some peanut butter, real rye bread, and a cucumber.

In this case, I used a hothouse English cucumber, so I didn’t have to bother to peel it, but the regular kind is fine too.

More Peanut and/or Cucumber Recipes

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Takeout without the takeout. It’s got chicken, crisp-fried veggies, and a creamy peanut sauce over it all.

 

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Sweet, crunchy cucumber with a spicy peanut sauce. Another takeout meal that’s really easy to make yourself.

 

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Lemon Cucumber Salad with Dill

A cool, refreshing salad that’s wonderful with a tuna or deli meat sandwich.  Easy to make too.

 

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Great as a side dish (or for breakfast, which is when Israelis eat it).  Just a bit of chopping and you’re done. Or put it in a pita with eggplant and hummus.

 

 




Three Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

It seems almost silly to write a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich.  This was just too good, gooey, and cheesy not to share.

Grilled cheese and a hot bowl of tomato soup (if not homemade, then Pacific roasted red pepper and tomato soup) is one of the best comfort food lunches ever.  Well, maybe a tie with macaroni and cheese.

OK, OK, I am a cheeseaholic. I must be part mouse.  If something has cheese (not bleu cheese though),  I will probably want to eat it.

Back to the recipe, I had a few slices of whole wheat bread which I had to use up quickly because they were going to go stale.  Plus Passover was coming (so no bread allowed for a week).

I love grilled cheese and this is where buying cheese ends comes in handy.  I had some cheddar, some monterey jack, and some Swiss cheese left in the container, plus I had just bought some fresh mushrooms and spinach.




Three Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich Substitutions and Variations

  • use olive oil instead of canola oil, or a mixture of butter and oil
  • swap the three cheeses for mozzarella and replace the spinach with eggplant (this would work even better with ciabetta instead of whole wheat)

More Sandwich Recipes

chicken caprese salad paniniChicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

Transform a side dish into lunch by adding a few ingredients. The result is crisp, golden-brown, gooey and delicious.

 

bacon spinach tomato aioli sandwichBacon Spinach Tomato Aioli Sandwich Recipe

The BLT with a twist. Skip the lettuce, make it spinach instead, and use aioli instead of ordinary mayo.

 

vegetarian eggplant sandwichVegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person

Another upcycled side dish. This time it’s Israeli salad, plus creamy eggplant, and smooth garlicky hummus. All wrapped up in a pita.

 

strawberry balsamic grilled cheese

Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Tangy vinegar and sweet berries take this childhood favorite to a whole new level.  The combination adds complexity and depth to a simple sandwich.