June 30, 2023
Posted: April 12, 2022 10:59 am
Grilled cheese is a go-to meal! It’s simple to make and always filling. It’s no surprise there’s an entire holiday for this iconic sandwich! National Grilled Cheese Day only comes once a year, and it’s the perfect opportunity to indulge in this lunchtime delight.
To celebrate, you can really go all out and try some intriguing new takes on the classic grilled cheese. We’ve compiled our best grilled cheese recipes for your inspiration. There are even some plant-based options for all those vegans and lactose-intolerant folks out there, so no one will miss out on paying homage to this easy and delicious comfort food.
What You’ll Need
We love putting pesto on grilled cheeses because pesto in and of itself is so versatile. If you’re more of the quick and easy type, pre-made store-bought pesto will get you a delicious grilled cheese. If you like to experiment with flavors, we recommend making your own.
To make a pesto, start with about two cups of your favorite greens. You can really go with anything you’d like. Some suggestions include kale, spinach, basil (a classic), or even dandelion leaves if you like to forage!
Put your greens in a blender or food processor along with four to six garlic cloves, the juice of one lemon, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast, 1/2 cup of olive oil, along with salt and pepper to taste. Blend everything until just combined, taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. If you’re having a hard time blending, add more oil.
Now that you’ve got your pesto, it’s cheese time. To get started, butter the outsides of your bread. For the filling, slather about two tablespoons of your pesto on each slice, then lay down two slices of gouda (or mozzarella), 1/4 cup of fresh greens, and another slice of gouda, then place the other slice of bread on top with the buttered side facing out. Now, heat a skillet over medium-low heat and place your assembled sandwich down.
Cover and cook for three to five minutes. Keep it low and slow to give the cheese plenty of time to melt without burning the bread. Covering the pan will create steam and make the cheese extra gooey. After three to five minutes, or until the underside is golden brown, flip the sandwich and fry for another two to three minutes. Remove from heat and enjoy!
What You’ll Need
This take on grilled cheese puts the “fun” in fungi. The mushrooms, especially if using shiitake, add depth and umami to the sandwich’s flavor profile. If you really want to go wild, you can combine this recipe with the pesto you just made to create a pizza grilled cheese.
Now, vegan cheese gets a bad rep for not melting. We find that it just depends on what you use. Daiya Follow Your Heart is the meltiest vegan cheese on the market and it comes in lots of different flavors. If you have time and ready for a challenge, you can always make your own vegan mozzarella.
Once you’ve got your cheese situation sorted, you’re ready to get grilling. To start, slice your mushrooms about a quarter-inch thick until you have about 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms. Coat the bottom of your frying pan in oil and get it nice and shimmery over medium to medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, place the sliced mushrooms in a single layer on the bottom of the pan.
Let them cook undisturbed for about three minutes. Mushrooms cook best at high heat with lots of oil; over-crowding your pan will lead to watery, undercooked mushrooms. After about three minutes, add about a tablespoon of Italian seasoning, a pinch of salt, some fresh black pepper, and whatever other seasonings your heart calls for.
Continue to cook the mushrooms, tossing regularly, for another three to four minutes. You still want the mushrooms to be soft, so if the edges start to crisp it’s time to get them off the heat. After your mushrooms are cooked, it’s time to build your sandwich. Butter the outside crusts of each slice of bread, then lay your bottom slice buttered-side down. Layer two slices of vegan mozzarella, a few tablespoons of cooked mushrooms, one more slice of cheese, and then the other slice of bread.
Now, put your constructed sandwich in a frying pan over medium-low to medium heat, cover, and cook for three to five minutes until the bread is golden brown. The steaming method is especially useful for melting vegan cheese; you can even sprinkle a little water into the pan before covering if you find you’re having a hard time. Flip your grilled cheese and cook for another one to two minutes until it’s golden brown on both sides. Once you’ve achieved that gorgeous, golden crispy meltiness you’re ready to chow down!
What You’ll Need
What if, you could have grilled cheese for dessert? Tart strawberries with creamy goat cheese on fluffy brioche all grounded with just a hint of thyme. You see why the recipe title is in French now. This is the fanciest of grilled cheeses. We enjoy making this version for breakfast especially. If you’re planning a brunch, kick this up a notch to make it into a french toast bake.
Mix two large eggs, 3/4 cup milk, 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract, and cinnamon to taste. Follow the instructions below for constructing the sandwich. Then, instead of frying in a pan with butter, place the sandwiches in a single layer in a baking dish and pour the milk and egg mixture over top. Bake at 350F covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for another five to ten minutes. This will yield about five servings, don’t forget the mimosas.
For a single serving of this glorious grilled cheese, start by mixing 1/4 cup of whipped cream cheese, 1/4 cup of creamy goat cheese, and 1 teaspoon of fresh time leaves. Prepare about a 1/4 cup of sliced strawberries. Now, butter the outsides of both of your brioche slices. Lay both slices buttered side down and smear the inside with your cheese mixture.
Place the sliced strawberries on one slice of bread, then top with the other slice, buttered side out. Fry in a pan for three to four minutes, you don’t need to cover this sandwich as the cheese is relatively soft, and steaming the sandwich will make the brioche too squashy. Flip and continue to fry for another two to three minutes, or until both slices of bread are golden brown. Bon Appetit, mon ami!
What You’ll Need
Like apple pie in a sandwich! If you’ve never sprinkled a little cheddar on top of a fresh, warm slice of apple pie, then you’re missing out. The sharp bite of the cheddar brings out the very best parts of the tart, mouth-puckering granny apple, and the sweet, decadent caramel.
We recommend using a biscuit for this grilled cheese because it’s the closest thing to pie crust, but I’m just extra. The date caramel, on the other hand, is an absolute must for the whole experience. Check out this easy five-ingredient recipe, and make some extra since you’ll want to keep it on hand.
Start by slicing your apple very thin, we find that matchsticks are the easiest. They sit nicely on the sandwich and don’t get as slidey as flat slices. Butter the outsides of your bread or biscuit. Lay the bottom slice buttered side down, spread about a tablespoon of your plant-based date caramel across the slice, place two slices of plant-based cheddar cheese (Daiya Follow Your Heart is the preferred brand), layer your Granny Smith apple slices, then another slice of cheese, and finally the top slice of bread with the buttered side facing out.
Over medium-low heat, cover and fry your sandwich for three to four minutes. The steaming technique will really help here to soften the apples and get the caramel all ooey-gooey, so consider sprinkling a little water in the frying pan before covering. Once the bottom side is golden brown, flip your sandwich and cook for another three minutes. Keep the heat nice and low to give the cheese and caramel plenty of time to melt. Once everything is golden brown and oozing, it’s time to dig in!
So clearly we’re passionate about our grilled cheese sandwiches. There are just so many possibilities! You can experiment with different types of cheese, different types of bread, and a whole world of fillings. It’s like a charcuterie board in a single sandwich, truly incredible.
If these funky recipes inspired you, definitely continue to branch out and try new combinations. Pretty much any fruit or vegetable you could think of has a cheese that works well with it. Once you have that flavor profile nailed down, consider what sauce or condiment may elevate it. Adding a pesto, some hummus, or even caramel can take your grilled cheese from “hey that’s pretty good,” to “oh wow I should sell this!”
Enjoy your grilled cheese adventures!
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