Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I love cheese!!!  I didn't always like it though.  When I was a kid, I wasn't fond of it at all.  Except on special occasions, we only had American cheese.  And, as it turns out, that is the only cheese I don't like.  So, I assumed that I didn't like any cheese.

On special occasions we would get cheese in a jelly jar.  I am not even sure it is sold anymore.  It came in a threesome.  If memory serves me well, one was pimento cheese, one was a cheddar spread and one was a blue cheese spread.  This was a specialty for when my parents were entertaining guests.  I don't remember getting more than a taste of this delicacy.

On Fathers Day or other celebrations for Dad, he would get a Cracker Barrel log of sharp or extra sharp cheddar.  He would set himself up with a beer and a sleeve of Ritz Crackers and enjoy his day.

I don't remember when I first decided that I loved cheese almost as much as Steve Urkel does.  I do remember knowing that sometimes really good sharp Swiss cheese makes my tongue itch.

Anyhow, now I love all cheese.  But here's the strange part.  With only three exceptions, I don't like cheese on my sandwiches.  I will eat Swiss cheese on a tuna salad sandwich and I will eat cheddar cheese on a bacon cheddar burger, but otherwise NO CHEESE on my sandwiches.

The third exception is what this post is really about.  My very favorite sandwich!!  A grilled veggie sandwich on a crusty baguette or ciabatta bread with a creamy, tangy goat cheese.  I grill veggies in large batches and keep them in the refrigerator ready for salads or sandwiches.  In this case, it works best if the veggies are warm, so that they help to melt the cheese a bit.

Most people steam or boil vegetables.  Almost all veggies can be roasted or grilled and the flavors that come out when they cooked this way are phenomenal.  Some work better on a sandwich.  Basically a mix of juicy and dryer vegetables works best.  For example, grilled tomatoes are fabulous, but if you use too many on a sandwich, they will make your bread soggy.  Before grilling, I usually brush my veggies with olive oil that has been infused with lots of garlic and rosemary.

My favorite combination for a sandwich is grilled eggplant, zucchini,  peppers - one sweet and one chili, onions, and tomatoes.  I slice open the bread and spread both sides with a thick layer of goat cheese.  If I am feeling extremely decadent, I will mix the goat cheese with some oil cured sun-dried tomatoes first.  Layer on the veggies.  Close the sandwich and it's ready to eat.  If you have a panini press, this is a great time to use it too.

Don't limit yourself to my list of vegetables.  Many people like grilled carrots, asparagus and portobello  mushrooms on their panini.  Adding a grilled chicken breast, sliced leftover steak or grilled salmon is also a delicious addition.  Get creative and enjoy!!

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