I tend to crave grilled cheese sandwiches more in the summer rather than in the fall or winter.
In the colder parts of the year, I am more likely to make soups or stews because they release all of that cozy heat that I don't want to deal with in the summer. Grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect for summer because they don't require any major, long-term cooking. There's something about fresh bread, melted cheese and summer produce that is a different sort of combination from a salad. Typically, I reach for tomatoes but this time I chose to stick with zucchini. I love summer tomatoes in a grilled cheese sandwich but towards the end it can make the bread soggy which we'll save for this salad.
My favorite way of eating zucchini is when it's grilled or sautéed with some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Recently, a friend and I discovered frying up zucchini and melted cheese together. In that instance it was manchego, but the concept is what inspired the creation of this summer grilled cheese sandwich.
Trying to flip a grilled cheese sandwich has made me really nervous in the past. I totally psych myself out and there ends up being cheese and fillings end up flying everywhere. A few weeks ago, I was photographing at work and noticed that one of our chefs fried both sides of bread separately butter-side down and then placed those two pieces together to put together the final sandwich. Through this method, you are guaranteed that the cheese is melted on both sides and don't have to experience that nerve-wracking feeling of failing to flip a grilled cheese sandwich. I've applied this method the last few times I have made grilled cheese sandwiches and it has changed my whole experience. No more stress of worrying about filling spillage or whether or not the cheese is completely melted. And if you have a panini press, feel free to use that in the usual way.
Zucchini Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Yields: 1 hefty grilled cheese sandwich
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced in half and then into ⅛-inch strips
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- 2 pieces of fresh sourdough bread
- ½ tablespoon butter
- ½ cup shredded Gouda (or other cheese of choice)
If grilling zucchini on a BBQ or grill pan, toss zucchini, olive oil and seasonings in a bowl. Toss to coat and grill 2-3 minutes per side. If sautéing zucchini, heat olive oil at medium heat. Add zucchini strips and cook 2-3 minutes per side. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Heat a large skillet to low-medium heat. Spread one side of each bread with butter and place it butter-side down on the skillet. Split the shredded cheese between the two halves. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown underneath. Top one side with zucchini strips, cover with the other piece of bread and cook for one more minute. Slice and serve immediately.