I unabashedly love grilled cheese. This is no longer just kid food. There are so many ways to make your grilled cheese gourmet, and I love mixing up different combinations. That being said, every year that I’ve had this blog I’ve totally dropped the ball on Grilled Cheese Month and Grilled Cheese Day. April is National Grilled Cheese month, and April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Day. You’d think I’d learn to plan ahead so I could share some new interesting combinations of grilled cheese with you all. But alas, I have failed in that department once again. The good news is by my count it’s still April, so I can still share some grilled gooey goodness with you. Hooray!
Let’s talk about some grilled cheese basics. There are lots of things that go into a really good grilled cheese. Not just the cheese, but the right bread, any other fixins you want to include, cooking it just right so the outside gets crispy but not burned and the cheese gets gooey and melty…but no pressure. I always use my trusty nonstick skillet for starters. But maybe you want to mix it up and use a panini press? Go for it! While some use mayonnaise on the outside of the bread, I’m a traditionalist and use butter on the bread. Speaking of bread, I love using a multigrain bread. It just adds so much flavor and nuttiness, and it has extra health benefits too! I usually like to include some kind of sauce on the inside of the grilled cheese – honey dijon, pesto, herbed mayo, and chipotle mayo are some of my favorites. It is important to start with the skillet on medium low to give the cheese on the inside time to melt before the bread gets too browned. And I have found that shredding the cheese gives you the best melt factor. And now for the cheese. Some swear by the oldie but goodie American slices. But not me. I love to get crazy with my cheeses – green onion cheddar, fontina, gruyere, cranberry cheddar, pepper jack, smoked gouda, fresh mozzarella… there are so many wonderful cheeses out there! So you see how quickly you can take grilled cheese from boring kid food to gourmet grown up food in no time!
Since this post is about dressing up your grilled cheese ideas, I thought I’d share one of the more unusual ones I’ve done. This is the only grilled cheese I’ve ever made that had fruit in it. But it is so delicious! I mean, fruit and cheese are a natural pairing, so it totally makes sense. The creamy earthiness of the fontina cheese plays so well with the sweet and tangy blackberries, and the fresh, clean taste of basil just puts it all over the edge. I know it sounds weird, but trust me. You will like it!
Fontina Blackberry Basil Grilled Cheese
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
Makes two large or four small sandwiches
- Multigrain bread – two slices for each sandwich
- 12 ounces of fresh blackberries
- 12-15 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 6-8 ounces of fontina cheese, shredded
Heat a nonstick skillet on medium low heat.
On a plate, mash the blackberries with a fork. Watch out for splattering. Stir in the chopped basil. (When I made this, I used the tiny basil leaves from a boxwood basil plant I had. Regular basil works fine.)
Butter one side of each piece of bread. This will be the outside of the grilled cheese sandwiches.
Lay half of the bread butter side down in the skillet. Top each with some of the shredded cheese and then a few spoonfuls of the berry basil mixture. Top with more shredded cheese and close up with another piece of bread, butter side up.
Cook about 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown and the cheese melts.