- 2 slices of bread— I prefer sourdough, because it has tons of flavor, you can buy it pre-sliced, and it's a more sturdy bread that can hold up to the filling in this grilled cheese.
- Softened butter — No need to get fancy here. Your favorite butter will do.
- Grated parmesan cheese — Use your judgment here. You can use the expensive stuff, but you don't have to. The only rule I would stick to is that it must be grated not shredded.
- 2 slices mozzarella — I prefer mozzarella here. It is a Caprese-style grilled cheese, right? I used pre-sliced mozzarella, but you could try it out with the real stuff. I've never tried it, so if you do, let me know how it works for you! We need 2 slices of each cheese to cover a wider sourdough bread, but if you have smaller bread like white or wheat, use your judgment.
- 2 slices provolone — I like the mixture of provolone and mozzarella, but you could try out a mild cheddar, gouda, or any other cheese you prefer. Keep in mind what flavors will work with the fillings.
- 5 cherry tomatoes (diced) — We are making a "mini" Caprese salad inside this grilled cheese, so I like to use these smaller tomatoes. They also have a bit more sweetness to them than your average tomato, which works well here. If you are going to try out a regular or Roma tomato, you will need to seed the tomato first and the results may differ from the original recipe.
- 4 small to medium basil leaves — Use your judgment with the sizing of the leaves. You can always add a bit more if you need to! Chiffonade these basil leaves to create beautiful, thin basil ribbons.
- A splash of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) — Any olive oil is okay if you don't have EVOO. I prefer EVOO for this recipe, but work with what you have!
- A splash of Balsamic vinegar — Stick to a small splash for both the EVOO and balsamic. You only want to season the tomatoes and let this mini-Caprese salad marinate.
- Dash of salt
- Dash of pepper
Don't skip the filling. While the grilled cheese by itself is delicious, this tangy, aromatic filling will amp up your grilled cheese to a whole new level.
- Give the tomatoes a nice dice — I cut them in half and cut each half into 3's, which yields the best result size-wise. You want small chunks, but not so small they don't shine.
- Chiffonade the basil — I love the beautiful, green ribbons you get with a chiffonade. To chiffonade, lay each basil leaf on top of the others to make a little basil bed, roll them into a tight bundle, and slice thinly crosswise.
- Put both the basil and tomatoes into a small bowl.
- Add a small splash of balsamic vinegar and EVOO (don't overdo this part).
- Season with a dash of salt and pepper.
- Let the ingredients marry while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Watch the video:
Here is where the hack comes in, and I promise you it is pure gold. I do this with every single grilled cheese I make. I have been doing this since I was 17, learning to cook, and feeling extra inventive with the ingredients. I've been doing it for so long I thought it was normal grilled-cheese procedure. I didn't realize everyone, everywhere hadn't caught onto this simple trick.
- Butter your bread — Make sure your butter is softened and cover the bread from edge to edge in a nice, even layer (leave nothing unbuttered}.
- Add parmesan — Cover the buttered side of your bread with parmesan. Make sure you get every nook and cranny. The more evenly covered the better. This evenness results in a nice, golden, crispy crust on the outside of the grilled cheese. Each bite of your grilled cheese should taste the same.
- Press in the parmesan — Lightly press the parmesan down, so that it is sticking to the butter and you don't lose too much parmesan.
Optional- add a sprinkle of garlic powder or use butter that has been seasoned with garlic.
Here's where everything comes together. Melty cheese. Sweet, tangy tomatoes. Aromatic basil. Nutty parmesan. Best grilled cheese ever.
- Add the cheese — After your bread is buttered and covered in parmesan, turn it over. Then layer one of your cheeses on one side.
- Add your filling — Add an even layer of your filling on top of your first cheese, being mindful not to get too close to the edges with your filling (you don't want to lose all your tomatoes).
- Add your cheese — Add your second cheese on top of your filling, and then add your second piece of bread butter side out.
Grill the sandwich on medium to medium-low heat in your favorite skillet until it is golden on each side.
Due to the addition of parmesan, you have to check the sandwich more than your average grilled cheese. I for one like a bit of a darker crust and push it a bit, but once it is done, it is done. Don't push it too far. If it's golden flip it. The first time you make it, watch it a little more closely. You'll see how nice and crispy the crust will be. If you like it just ever so slightly over the edge of golden like I do, don't worry so much but still watch it.
You can eat this grilled cheese on its own, but here are my favorite pairings!
- Tomato soup — Serve with a classic bowl of tomato soup for dipping.
- Fagioli — Fagioli soup goes with everything. With this Caprese salad-inspired grilled cheese, Fagioli will pair nicely.
- Salad — Serve with a small mixed-greens salad. Consider adding Italian dressing or making your own dressing with balsamic and EVOO.
- Side of melon and prosciutto — A combo that is salty and sweet and refreshing and savory. A few thin sheets of prosciutto wrapped around balls of cantaloupe is a surprising but classic Italian combination that would make a great side to this sandwich.