The grilled cheese is a staple for many children. It’s easy to make and bursts with buttery flavor from crispy, toasted bread, warmly hugging the gooey cheese inside. But as we grow into adulthood, our palates evolve, we try new things, and sometimes (sometimes) we feel we should make adult decisions in what we eat.
This feeling may explain why so many of us abandon the grilled cheese as adults, only to return to our safety blanket when weakened on a winter day.
No longer, I say! On this National Grilled Cheese Day, it’s time to abandon the guilt, embrace your inner youthful spirit and explore ten amazing ways that you can grow with the grilled cheese.
1. Grilled Goat Cheese
If you’re stuck on the notion that a grilled cheese should be super simple, I understand. Why mess with a good thing? But, um, have you tried goat cheese? It’s creamy, tangy, and there are many mild varieties for the timid.
I’m particular to an herbed, garlic-and-basil goat cheese, but if you choose to keep it simple, consider throwing some fresh thyme into your grilled goat cheese sandwich.
2. Macaroni and Grilled Cheese
Screw being healthy, right? We’re talking about grilled cheese, and if I’m going to eat cheese and buttered bread, I’m going to go big! If you’re feeling particularly frisky, try substituting the “cheese” in grilled cheese with mac and cheese. Crazy right? More like crazy good!
Not next-level enough for you? Throw some crispy bacon in the mix for added scrumptiousness. The kid in you will be doing backflips.
__3. Vegan Grilled Cheese __
Vegans deserve grilled cheese too! But while a vegan cheese like this gets made from roasted red pepper, coconut milk, champagne vinegar, tapioca flour and some other sprinkled magic, the rest of the grilled cheese will ring relatively familiar to non-vegans.
4. Sweet ‘n’ Salty Grilled Cheese
There’s a reason cheese and fruit often get paired together on hors d’oeuvres plates, and it’s that amazing play between sweet and salty.
We suggest trying grilled cheese with cinnamon-raisin swirl bread and quince paste (which you’ll often find with cheese and crackers), which balances perfectly with salty feta and gruyere. Decadent? Sure. Mind-blowing? Absolutely.
5. Dessert Grilled Cheese
Since we’ve opened our minds to sweet and salty grilled cheeses, let’s just go for a full-on toothache. You dreamed of doing this as a child, but now you can because you’re an adult and you’ve earned it.
Isn’t everything better with Nutella? Image: giphy.com
Spread some sweet and salty Nutella on your bread, add bananas for your daily fruit, marshmallow fluff for your daily fluff, and mascarpone because this is a grilled cheese, right? Now, sprinkle some Heath bar pieces for crunch, and you’ve got a real adult grilled cheese.
6. Adult Decisions Grilled Cheese
Some days you just can’t adult, and on those days, stick to your white bread and American cheese. However, if you can give yourself a few extra minutes, treat your body better while still pleasing your taste buds.
Take a mild white cheese, like a Gouda or Havarti, and add some marinated asparagus and roasted red peppers for an earthy, smoky, and ultimately, (relatively) healthy grilled cheese.
7. Grownup Grilled Cheese
Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you have to get all chef-y when you’re making a grilled cheese. With sourdough, extra sharp cheddar, and Bartlett pears, you can keep your grilled cheese easy, but still please your palate with more complex flavors.
Sweet pears and sharp cheese are natural buddies, but toss some Brie into the mix to bring everything back down to earth. As satisfying as a basic grilled cheese, but with a little more fancy footwork on your tongue.
8. Grilled Cheese Madness
The truly adventurous home cooks know that risk can equal reward, like using sweet raisin bread to balance the bitter and salty notes from an apricot-caper puree and chopped arugula.
Taleggio cheese brings a strong aroma but a mild, fruity flavor to the mix, and just to take this thing to the highest heights, we’ll ground this grilled cheese with braised beef short ribs. Are we even eating a grilled cheese anymore? Do we care?
9. Eggplant Parmesan Grilled Cheese
You’ll typically find the eggplant parm sandwiches of the world on a toasted roll or baguette, but I contend that they’re simply better when utilized on grilled cheese.
It’s important to start with a base of fried eggplant for a crispy element, along with melted mozzarella cheese. Add mozzarella’s good friends, tomato sauce, and basil, and you’ve got a delicious grilled cheese that’s a little bit messy, but in the best way!
10. Croque Monsieur/Madame Grilled Cheese
The croque-monsieur is a classic French sandwich that you’ll often find baked or fried in a pan. However, if you prepare it like a grilled cheese with a buttered, rustic bread, you’ve got the elements of an elegant yet decadent sandwich.
Featuring ham, Dijon, Gruyere, and a bechamel sauce that’s cooked until bubbly and golden, this sandwich is certainly generous but oozes incredible flavors. Top the whole thing with a fried egg, and suddenly the Monsieur becomes a delicious, luscious “madame.”