Fancy Grilled Cheese

Fancy Grilled Cheese, Mexican-Style

I used to have a general menu plan for the week because I thought it would be easier to impose some sort of boundaries on meals (“Oh, it’s meatloaf night!” so that’s what I make . . . well, not exactly meatloaf around here, but you know what I mean) and make sure I am not making, say, pasta, three nights in a row (which is completely within the realm of possibility).

Sunday: Wild Card (Scott usually cooks Sunday nights)

Monday: Tofu or some other kind of soy

Tuesday: Soup

Wednesday: Salad

Thursday: Eggs

Friday: Pizza or sandwiches

Saturday: Pasta

This, like many of my other Ordnung fueled plans, fell by the wayside except for Fridays. I still typically make pizza or sandwiches (my definition of sandwich is quite broad . . . it includes fajitas, quesadillas and burritos, for example). This particular Friday, I was paging through Everyday Greens, San Francisco chef Annie Somerville’s follow-up to the more complicated Fields of Greens. I have many favorite recipes from Somerville. I don’t let a summer pass without making Spicy Corn and Chick-pea Soup with Chiles, for example. The first time my dear friend Susan invited us over for dinner maybe 15 years ago, she and her husband Tom made the time consuming but delicious Port Wine and Mushroom Lasagna. The fact that I remember it speaks volumes for the recipe and its execution. The recipes are almost always complex, but well worth the effort. I digress with my food nostalgia, however.

The sandwich recipe I landed on this particular Friday was for grilled cheese . . . but not just any grilled cheese . . . a grilled-poblano-and-onion-with-cheddar-and-cilantro-pesto grilled cheese.

Truth be told, I made one plain old sharp white cheddar grilled cheese because I didn’t think Alia would be willing to stray from her beloved standard. Luca almost choked on a poblano that was hotter than I expected so he also ate part of the plain one. Scott and I happily devoured an entire sandwich each.

If you don’t make this particular one, consider making up your own custom fancy grilled cheese. Have a few stray mushrooms kicking around the crisper? Make a carmelized-onion-sauteed-mushroom-cheddar grilled cheese. It’s summertime which means there is copious amounts of zucchini. How about fried shredded zucchini, basil and caramelized onions (again!)? Clean out your vegetable drawer. Substitute vegetables for half the cheese . . . hear applause from your family and nutritionist!

Grilled Mexican Sandwich with Poblano Chilies and Cheddar

adapted from Annie Somerville’s Everyday Greens

makes 4 sandwiches

1/2 large red onion peeled and sliced into 1/2 ” thick rings

1 poblano chile

Garlic oil (Steep two minced cloves of garlic in 1/2 cup olive oil for 30 minutes. Strain out the garlic and reserve for the cilantro pesto. Store remaining oil in a glass jar in the fridge.)

Salt and pepper

8 slices of whole wheat bread (I bought a homemade loaf at our local co-op)

6-8 ounces sharp white cheddar, thinly sliced or grated

Cilantro pesto (Throw about 1/2 the chopped garlic from the garlic oil, a handful of cilantro leaves (about 1/2 cup), a couple glugs of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lime juice in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste and season with salt)

Unsalted butter, softened (for grilling the sandwiches)

Heat a gas grill to medium. Brush the onion slices and poblano with garlic oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you have a  grill skillet, place the whole poblano and onion slices in the skillet and grill onions until tender (about 3-4 minutes on each side) and poblano until the skin is charred and blistered. Alternately, stick a skewer or two through the onion rings to keep them together and place on the grill. Carefully turn after 3-4 minutes. When the poblano is done, place it in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or in a paper bag. When cool, peel, cut in half and seed. Put the onions and chile in a bowl and give one more sprinkle of salt and a grind of pepper.

Place 4 slices of bread on a work surface. Layer cheese, poblano and onion on top and drizzle with cilantro pesto. Leave the fancy stuff off 1-2 sandwiches as needed. Place the other 4 slices of bread on top of the sandwiches and spread with butter. Place the sandwiches, buttered side down, in a skillet or on a griddle heated to medium. Then, spread the top side with butter. Place a lid on the frying pan to help the cheese to melt. Cook until golden, 4-5 minutes, then turn and cook the other side. Serve immediately with a romaine, radish and avocado salad with a lime vinaigrette on the side.


Me:     A- (It is STILL grilled cheese, thus the -.)

Scott: B+

Luca: A (“even though it was too spicy for me”)

Alia:   lots of B+s (this is a rating of a plain grilled cheese)


4 responses

  1. Hey Angela….I’m still on our trip. My mouth watered seeing this. Looks great! My family enjoyed the enchiladas btw 🙂 Dad still likes his sauce but thinks it would be great to add the spices of Tex-Mex into his sauce to see how that works. BUT he did enjoy them (that is huge). Everyone had more than one helping. Thank you for sharing & helping my family try something new. I’m going to try this latest recipe!!

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