Savor the humble BLT, grilled cheese
Monday, April 3, 2017
“Enjoy every sandwich,” singer-songwriter Warren Zevon once said.
Savoring the humble sandwich was something Zevon treasured as he tried to squeeze every moment out of life, especially after being diagnosed with cancer.
So let’s follow his advice and enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures.
April is National BLT Sandwich Month, celebrating the bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich.
The bread: We trust you know how to toast bread.
The bacon: We trust you know how to make bacon. Whether you make bacon in a skillet or a microwave, drain the fat on paper towels when you’re done. For each sandwich, make two slices of bacon. Make that three slices. Better make it four slices. Well, you know how you like it.
The lettuce and tomato: Either iceberg or Romaine lettuce is fine. Slice a tomato as thick or as thin as you like it.
The spread: Most people spread mayonnaise on the toast. We grew up on BLTs made with Miracle Whip, a salad dressing that looks like mayonnaise but delivers a sweeter, slightly spicy taste.
Assembling a BLT: That’s your call. You may go lettuce-tomato-bacon. You may be part of the crowd that goes lettuce-bacon-tomato. You may like your lettuce on top and bottom. You may be a double stacker, using three slices of toast and two layers of the good stuff. The judges will accept any combination.
OK, now eat.
We looked at a lot of BLT recipes. One of the most popular additions to the B, L, and T is avocado, either as slices or as the spread. Here’s a recipe for BLT with avocado spread from Epicurious.
April also is National Grilled Cheese Month, with Wednesday, April 12, as Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day.
Before digging in, let’s rethink the grilled cheese sandwich.
Use less cheese: Try a cheese that tastes more robust than American cheese. Pepper Jack, anyone? How about sharp or extra-sharp cheddar? Then use less of it.
Less cheese? Sure, then add some other flavors. Put a little salsa in there, or some chopped veggies.
Skip the white bread: A whole-grain, country-style bread will deliver more flavor, more fiber and more crunch from the crust.
Skip the butter: Get a crispy crust without grilling in butter. A panini maker is perfect for pressing and crisping bread. Don’t have one? Here’s another way to press your grilled cheese. Fill a big pot with water. Put the pot on top of your sandwiches while they’re in the skillet. Press down. The weight of the pot of water will flatten the sandwiches and help transfer heat to grill them.
Skip the butter? Sure. Try creamy spreads instead. Eating Well, from which these five tips were adapted, suggests reduced-fat mayonnaise with a squeeze of lemon or reduced-fat sour cream mixed with chopped fresh herbs.
Here’s a healthy variation on the grilled cheese sandwich that’s great for dipping into marinara sauce.
Spinach Feta Grilled Cheese
½ tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic
¼ lb. frozen cut spinach
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 ciabatta rolls
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 oz. feta cheese
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- Mince garlic and add to a skillet with olive oil. Cook over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Add frozen spinach, turn up heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until heated through and most of the excess moisture has evaporated away. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Cut the rolls in half. Add about ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella and ½ ounce of feta to the bottom half of each roll. Divide the cooked spinach between the two sandwiches, then top with a pinch of red pepper flakes, plus ¼ cup more shredded mozzarella on each.
- Place the top half of the ciabatta roll on the sandwiches and transfer them to a large non-stick skillet. Fill a large pot with water to create weight. Put the pot on top of the sandwiches to press them down like a panini press. Turn on heat to medium-low and cook until sandwiches are crispy on the bottom. Flip the sandwiches, place the weighted pot back on top, and cook until crispy on the other side and the cheese is melted. Serve warm.