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 probably 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

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Total Time: 11 minutes

Category: sandwich

Cuisine: American

one

Strawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

An old classic American sandwich with a new, updated twist. This is not kid stuff, this sandwich appeals to grownups, while keeping the best part of "comfort food."

Ingredients

  • 3-4 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons oil (you can use neutral oil or olive oil)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 slices crusty bread
  • 3-4 slices smoked gouda, brie, or other mild cheese

Instructions

  1. Put the sliced strawberries and the balsamic vinegar in a small bowl or ramekin. Stir to mix until the strawberries are coated.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a small frying pan on low-medium heat.
  3. Once the oil/butter mixture is hot, build your sandwich - bread, then the cheese, then the strawberry mixture, then the second slice.
  4. Add the sandwich to the pan and cook for a two or three minutes. Turn and cook on the other side for another two or three minutes.

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

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Chicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

After all the soup, turkey, and holiday food, it’s time for something a bit simpler. Until, of course, the next holiday comes along.  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 panini sandwich.

This is more of a guide than a recipe.  There’s not a lot of measuring.

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.



Chicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 13 minutes

Category: sandwich

Cuisine: Italian

one serving

Chicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

Turn a caprese salad into a full lunch with some chicken and grilled bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 slices ciabatta bread (or a small baguette, you want something crusty)
  • 1/4 C shredded cooked chicken
  • 1-2 slices fresh mozzarella
  • 1 Campari tomato (or half a small beefsteak tomato), sliced
  • 2-4 basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a small frying pan
  2. Add the two slices of bread, side by side.
  3. Let the bread cook until it turns golden brown (about 3-5 minutes).
  4. Add the cooked chicken and the mozzarella cheese. Put the second slice of bread on top of the first one, to make a sandwich. If you like freshly cooked tomato, add it with the cheese. If not, slide it in after you remove the sandwich from the pan.
  5. Cover the pan and let the sandwich cook for 30 seconds or so until the cheese melts.
  6. Add the tomato (if you haven't already) and the basil.

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)

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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.




Bacon Spinach Tomato Aioli Sandwich

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Category: sandwich

Cuisine: American

one serving

Bacon Spinach Tomato Aioli Sandwich

A new twist on the classic BLT. This is a bacon spinach tomato and aioli sandwich.

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3 slices of bacon
  • 2-3 slices of beefsteak tomato (or about five grape tomatoes, sliced in half)
  • 2-3 spinach leaves
  • 1 mini bell pepper (sliced)
  • 2 slices of bread (I used rye)
    Aioli Sauce
  • 1 small clove garlic, mashed
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 2 T mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp lemon juice
  • pinch cayenne

Instructions

  1. Cook the bacon in a small frying pan.
  2. While the bacon is cooking, make the aioli sauce.
    Aioli Sauce
  1. Mash the garlic and salt together in a small bowl. Add the mayonnaise, then drizzle in the olive oil.
  2. Add the lemon juice and the cayenne. Whisk it all together thoroughly. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. I'd go easy on the salt since the bacon is salty.
  3. Once the bacon is cooked, drain it on paper towels.
  4. Pile the bacon, spinach, tomato, and bell pepper on one slice of the bread. Spread the aioli on the other slice and put it on top of your sandwich.

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

More Sandwich Recipes

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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.




Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Category: sandwich

Cuisine: Middle Eastern

one serving

Vegetarian Eggplant Sandwich

Vegetarian sandwich with eggplant, hard boiled egg, hummus, and chopped Israeli salad.

Ingredients

  • three slices eggplant, cut into strips
  • pinch or two of kosher salt (to draw out the moisture from the eggplant)
  • hard boiled egg
  • 2-3T olive oil
  • 2 tsp onion, diced
  • handful spinach (optional)
  • 2 T persian/israeli salad (cukes, tomatoes, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, optional bell peppers, cut into tiny pieces; the full recipe is here)
  • 2 T hummus
  • one pocket pita bread

Instructions

  1. Salt the eggplant and let it sit while you boil the egg.
  2. Fill a small saucepan (preferably enamel or stainless steel) with water and add the egg. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the egg for 12 minutes (right out of the fridge, 10 if it was sitting on the counter for a while).
  3. Remove the egg from the pan with a large slotted spoon and hold it under cold running water (or plunge it into an ice bath). The shell will come off more easily if it's cold.
  4. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the eggplant. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5-8 minutes.
  5. Now add the spinach, if using, and cook for one minute until it wilts.
  6. Remove the eggplant mixture from the heat.
  7. Peel the egg and cut it into slices.
  8. Cut open the pita, and add the spinach.
  9. Add eggplant mixture, egg, salad, and hummus in layers.

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

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Peanut Butter and Cucumber on Rye Bread

We’re all familiar with the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  You can use crunchy or smooth peanut butter, preserves sweetened with sugar, or the kind sweetened only with fruit juice. You can even get them pre-made! It’s classic American childhood food, and it’s comforting.

This peanut butter sandwich 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, substitute rye bread for the classic white 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 a slight 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 (the kind with seeds and a crust), 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.




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

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Category: sandwich

Cuisine: American

one serving

Three Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

three cheese grilled cheese sandwich with spinach and mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 8 or nine cheese cubes, cut up, or several slices of your favorite cheeses
  • spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • 2 or 3 button mushrooms, sliced
  • canola or olive oil

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Once that's hot, saute the mushrooms until they lose their liquid and turn slightly brown.
  2. Add the spinach and cook for a minute, until the spinach wilts. Remove the vegetables and set them aside.
  3. Put the cheese between the slices of bread and cook for a minute or two on low-medium heat. Watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. When the cheese starts to melt a bit, turn the sandwich over.
  4. Take off the top slice of bread, add the spinach and mushroom mixture, and then replace the bread. Add more oil if necessary. Let it cook for a minute or two until the rest of the cheese melts and the bottom of the sandwich is golden brown.

Notes

This would also work well with ciabetta bread or a peasant bread.

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

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