Every once in a while, a friend and I will go out for lunch at one of those so-hip-it-hurts bistros. The places that kindly suggest certain wines to go with your chic salad. (Alright, twist my arm.) After getting over the guilty feeling of being a fake, a phony, I love these lunches. I feel so grown up for a few hours, and truly: the food is good. And so is the wine.
At my last Ladies Who Lunch lunch, I had the most incredible sandwich: a grilled cheese on ciabatta bread with fig preserves. It absolutely rocked my afternoon. And maybe most exciting of all was that I knew I could make this at home!
Now I know that grilled cheese and fig doesn’t sound like the most likely combination. But this is actually a classic pairing. Think of the airbrushed Gourmet Magazine pictures of reclining cheeses posed with effortlessly sexy fruit (food porn). Grapes, pears, figs and honey have been dating cheese for a long time because their personalities complement each other so nicely. These sweet fruits cut the salty savor of cheese perfectly and the two make a great pair.
I modified my Ladies Who Lunch sandwich a bit when I cooked one up the other day. I switched out the ciabatta for a sourdough bread because it was available at my grocery store and ciabatta was not. I also switched out the fontina cheese for a basic swiss (again: availability). When I went to the jam & jelly aisle looking for fig preserves I was beaten again (grocery store: 256, Anne: 0) so I went to Great Harvest Bread Company, a bakery and specialty store, and finally “got the goods.” But all the trouble of hunting down ingredients was worth it because when I served it for lunch, my three-year-olds and I all thought it was great. Here’s the very basic recipe for this fabulous sandwich (and I’d love to hear any gourmand insights out there). Bon appetit!
Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Fig Preserves
sliced swiss cheese
Slice bread. Butter one side of each slice with butter and place butter side-down on cutting board. Spread other side 0f buttered bread with an easy amount of fig preserves. Add one layer of swiss cheese and top with a second slice of buttered/figged bread, fig side-down. Turn stove to medium high heat and grill sandwich in a frying pan, “grilled cheese style.”
This sandwich is just begging for a panini press, but I do not have one. My beautiful-smart friend Sara once declared that a panini press “turns a sandwich into a meal.” I know she’s right.