|Grilled cheese caprese - part caprese salad, part bruschetta, all good.|
The key here is, of course to identify the basic components needed- Insalata Caprese is probably the most simple salad you can make - the dish depends on having fresh ingredients- fresh mozzarella, fresh tomato, and fresh basil leaves - dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with a touch of salt and pepper if needed. It is a very small leap to combine this idea with the toasted bread idea from classic Bruschetta and arrive at an item that satisfies my mild obsession with grilled cheese.
I start, of course, with a good quality home-made bread that will develop a pleasing crunch when grilled, but still have some body to it after being on the heat. Take two slices of bread, rub them on one side with a liberal amount of olive oil. Place them on a hot grill, oil side down. Place a few pieces of fresh mozzarella on each slice. Meanwhile, take two or three slices of a vine-ripened tomato, and grill them for about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side- enough so they begin to get a little color and develop some extra flavor. Place your grilled tomatoes on top of one slice of bread, and layer on about 3 or 4 fresh basil leaves on the other. Dress the tomato side with a small splash of balsamic vinegar. I didn't bother to season with salt and pepper- but you may if you so desire.
|Grilling the sandwich - the basil makes the kitchen smell great as it warms up.|
By this time, the cheese will be mostly melted, and your bread should be very close to having a nice golden-brown crust. Monitor the bread closely at this point- olive oil seems to go from golden brown, to overdone much more quickly than butter or margarine due to it's lower smoking point. As soon as the bread has a good crisp to it, assemble your sandwich and enjoy.
The end product is fairly light, with a great crunch. It made a great light lunch - and my wife enjoyed it as much as I did. This same basic idea can be expanded on by adding a little garlic, or other herbs, or even a different cheese (a smoked mozzarella maybe, or a young asiago, or fresh mozzarella with a little sharp provolone for extra kick) - there are many possibilities, however- I feel that this basic version is so good, and so simple, that it really does not need anything else to be a great sandwich.