As promised, here is another grilled cheese recipe for National Grilled Cheese Month! It’s not as life-changing as the Brie and fig jam grilled cheese that I posted earlier this week. But this Italian grilled cheese is more of a classic grilled-cheese-and-tomato-soup combination, and makes a great meal. It’s melted mozzarella and creamy ricotta with a hint of buttery garlic. Dip it into the rich, sweet tomato-basil soup and you’ve got a heavenly Italian twist on a traditional favorite.
The garlic butter makes this sandwich special, so don’t leave it out if you need to cut corners. But if you find it a little overwhelming to make everything from scratch, you could find a substitute something store-bought for the tomato soup and save yourself some time (and some dish-washing!).
Mozzarella and Ricotta Garlic-Butter Grilled Cheese with Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup
For the soup:
4 large tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Sugar, if needed
4 large leaves of basil
For the butter:
2 tablespoons of salted butter (add a pinch of salt if you don’t have salted butter)
1 clove of garlic, minced
For the sandwiches:
4 slices of 1/2 inch thick crusty Italian bread
Mozzarella (I sliced a ball of fresh mozzarella, but you could probably get a really nice stringy melted cheese with deli slices or a block of the mozzarella that has less moisture than the fresh stuff. I just couldn’t find any here!)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the tomato wedges with the balsamic, olive oil and salt. Spread out on a sheet pan and roast for 30-45 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and the juices start to concentrate. Keep an eye on them though, because the juices can burn and then you’re stuck without any tomato-y goodness. It should look sort of like this:
Blend the roasted tomatoes with the basil leaves. My puree was a little thick, so I added water until I got the viscosity that I wanted. Transfer to a pot and keep warm on the stove. Also, my tomatoes were pretty acidic, so I needed to add a little bit of sugar to make it sweeter (but I guess that’s what you get when you use out-of-season tomatoes).
Make the garlic butter while the tomatoes are roasting. Melt the butter over medium-low heat on your stovetop. Add the minced garlic and cook until the garlic has mellowed, but before it starts browning.
Warm a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. We’re toasting both sides of the bread to get more of that fantastic garlic butter into the sandwich. Brush one side of the bread with garlic butter. Toast the buttered side of the bread until golden brown. Spread ricotta on half of the slices and place the mozzarella on the other halves (on the toasted sides). Pair up the cheeses to make sandwiches. Brush the outsides of the sandwiches with garlic butter and place back in the pan. Toast until golden brown, then flip and toast the other side.
Serve with the soup, and enjoy!