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Level Up Grilled Cheese

 

We thought we should share our secret for the perfectly melted goodness that is a very adult grilled cheese sando. We’ve come a long way from the classic American-cheese-on-white-bread (not that there is anything wrong with that version) and this elevated panini is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

markham-vineyards-grilled-cheese

Inspired by a “white pizza” from one of our favorite local restaurants, we sought to create a sandwich version that would satisfy our craving. For those unfamiliar with a white pizza, it has all the goodness of a cheese pizza- an assortment of white cheeses, loads of garlic, herbs and olive oil- but no red sauce.

This grilled cheese version hits all the marks: Ricotta? Check. Mozzarella? Check. Lots of garlic, butter, herbs and wine? Check, check, check and check.

It’s decadent and pairs nicely with a glass of Markham Chardonnay. As an added bonus, you can enjoy a glass while you’re preparing the cheeses. You are opening it for the recipe anyway…just sayin’.

This satisfying recipe serves 4 (or makes 3 large sandwiches, depending on bread size) and does take a bit of advanced planning for the marinade, but it’s a quick prep the night before which is why we are sharing it early. We swear… it’s worth it.

Happy (almost) National Grilled Cheese Day!

INGREDIENTS:

Ricotta spread:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil*
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano*
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

*Note: If you don’t have fresh basil or oregano on-hand, we’ve been known to substitute 2 teaspoons of dried Italian seasoning for both the basil and oregano. While fresh is noticeably tastier, we aren’t sad about the substitution in a pinch.

Marinated Mozzarella:

  • 8 ounces mozzarella balls (we recommend the Ciliegine, the small pearl sized balls, but Bocconcini will work, too)
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Markham Vineyards Chardonnay
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped oregano (or 1.5 teaspoons of Italian seasoning if replacing both fresh basil and oregano)
  • pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black paper

Sandwich:

  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 8 slices of your favorite crusty bread
  • Butter

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl, mash the ricotta with the olive oil, garlic, herbs, salt, and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, but up to 24 hours, to really let the flavors blend together.
  2. In a separate small bowl, stir the mozzarella with olive oil, wine, herbs, salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, but longer (up to 24 hours) is better. Stir every few hours.
  3. Enjoy glass of Chardonnay while you dream of melty, cheesy goodness.
  4. The next day, (or just a little while later) when you’re ready to dig in… liberally spread the ricotta mixture evenly on each piece of bread, coating the inside of both slices.
  5. Arrange the mozzarella (cheese only, you can discard the marinade, or save it for another use, like garlic bread) evenly on top of the ricotta on every other piece of bread (one layer of mozzarella per sandwich) and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  6. Assemble the sandwiches and butter both sides generously.
  7. In a large frying pan over medium-low heat, grill the sandwiches, flipping often, until they’re golden-brown on the outside and the cheese is melted inside, about 10-12 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately.

While the sandwich will pair wonderfully with our Chardonnay, we also recommend enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir if you’re in the mood for red wine. We think you really can’t go wrong.

Enjoy!