Grilled cheese: one of America’s favorite comfort foods. Warm, melty, and delicious, it’s just what the doctor ordered on a bad day or when you’re in a funk. But it’s not exactly exciting, is it?
Well, Shane Kearns is out to change that. His book, Melt: 100 Amazing Adventures in Grilled Cheese turns the staid grilled cheese sandwich into a canvas for inventive eats. From savory (white wine, mushrooms, and Raclette) to unusual (green tea tofu, anyone?) to sweet (Cherries Jubilee), Kearns covers all the bases and then creates new ones.
The Asparagus and Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette caught my eye right away, and I had to try it out. My family is full of asparagus lovers, so this grilled cheese was a must. We were not disappointed. The vinaigrette was a perfect complement to the asparagus, and the Dubliner cheese had the perfect amount of bite the bring the sandwich together. My husband and son tore through the sandwich before I hardly had a bite. This one’s a winner.
Asparagus and Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette
For Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette:
1 small onion, sliced
2 teaspoons lemon/pepper seasoning salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/8 cup olive oil
5 whole asparagus spears
2-4 tablespoons melted sweet butter, for grilling
2 slices sourdough bread
1/2 cup shredded Dubliner cheese
1. “Steam” the asparagus in the microwave by placing them in a microwave-safe bowl with enough water to cover the bottom of the bowl. Cook, covered on high for 30 seconds,
2. In a mixing bowl, combine all vinaigrette ingredients.
3. Grill asparagus spears in a grill pan on medium heat, drizzling vinaigrette over asparagus as they cook and continually turning spears so that all sides are covered by the vinaigrette and cook evenly. Set grilled asparagus aside.
4. Brush the melted butter on the outside of the 2 slices of bread. In the same grill pan, place 1 slice of bread butter side down, followed by Dubliner cheese and asparagus spears. Place other slice of bread on top, butter side up.
5. Let sandwich cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes per side or until bread is golden brown.
6. Cut on the diagonal and serve.
Notes: I would rinse the grill pan lightly to ensure all onions are cleared out before grilling the sandwich. The onions from the vinaigrette have a tendency to gather in the ditches of the grill pan and burn while the sandwich is cooking.
I also made the Rice Krispies Treat dessert. I’ll be honest with you- I tried this one simply because it sounded so very strange. Read the recipe below and you’ll see what I mean. However, this sandwich is actually amazing! These odd flavors melded beautifully. Another plus is that this sandwich couldn’t be easier to make. This one will become a go-to snack around here, that’s for sure.
Rice Krispies Treats
1 large Rice Krispies treat
Brie to cover 1 side of Rice Krispies treat
Peanut butter to cover 1 side of Rice Krispies treat
7 chocolate discs, melted
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. But the Rice Krispies treat horizontally. Spread brie on 1 half and peanut butter on the other. Drizzle melted chocolate on the peanut butter side.
3. Place only the brie half on a baking sheet and in the oven for 3 minutes. Set aside.
4. Combine the covered sides.
5. Cut in half and serve.
Notes: Make sure you place the Rice Krispies treat on parchment or a Silpat when you put it in the oven. It gets very melty and sticky while the Brie is melting. Also, if you don’t have melting chocolate (or don’t feel like fussing with it), Nutella makes a great stand-in for chocolate in this recipe.
by Gabrielle Kaasa