Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Grown Up Grilled Cheese

Ever since I was a little girl, grilled cheese has been one of my favorite comfort foods.  Of course I have graduated from ordering it every time I go out to eat (which is what I did when I was 5), but it is still something that I feel just needs to be made occasionally, especially after a busy, stressful day at work.  Of course now I am not the grilled cheese purist I once was when I was little, insisting it be made simply with cheddar and white bread (and I no longer dip it in ketchup).  I now prefer to add grilled or sauteed veggies to the sandwich, to make it more interesting and so I can at least claim that part of it is healthy.  Also I prefer to use crusty rustic bread, often of the whole grain type, and put cheeses other than cheddar on it.  This time I chose fennel and shallots laced with garlic and lemon for the veggies, and roquefort for a flavorful cheese, with some mozzarella to ensure lots of melty goodness.  This is is what I prescribe as a remedy after a hard day at work!

Carmelized Fennel Roquefort Grilled Cheese

makes 2 sandwiches

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp butter
4 slices rustic country bread
3 oz roquefort cheese
4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil, then add the fennel and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally until very soft. Add the garlic, and saute for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant, then add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and thyme, and stir to combine. Remove from heat. To assemble sandwiches, spread butter on one side of each bread slice. Place 2 bread slices on a plate, buttered side down. Top bread slices with half of the cheeses then top cheese with fennel mixture. Top with remaining cheese, then remaining 2 bread slices, buttered side up. Heat a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Place sandwiches in skillet. Cook sandwiches until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side, then transfer to the oven to melt the cheese completely. Cut in half, and serve!

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