Thursday, July 10, 2014

Grilled Heirloom Tomato Caprese Sandwiches

There is something to be said for a simple tomato and cheese sandwich. This bad boy uses farmer's market fresh heirloom tomatoes and melty, fresh mozzarella cheese. Add in some fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and you've got yourself an extremely tasty sandwich!

Sometimes I set out at dinner time having no clue what I'm making. This sandwich happened at one of those times. Since I've started frequenting the farmer's market, I find myself staring down a variety of produce in the fridge. What am I going to make with what I have? When my eyes skipped over these maters' and the ball of fresh mozzarella sitting next to it, an idea began to form. An added bonus? I have more basil than I know what to do with. And what goes best with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil? The answer to that question is obvious- balsamic vinegar. I decided to grill the tomatoes and bread, and make a stacked sandwich. Boom! Dinner decided.

Aren't these tomatoes gorgeous? Heirloom tomatoes are some of my favorites. So juicy and flavorful, and that texture! Summer is gooooood.

A couple tips for making these sandwiches- I sliced my tomatoes before I grilled them. This turned out ok because I cut the tomatoes so thick. I don't recommend an amateur does this. If the tomatoes are overcooked, they become mushy and slide through the grates on the grill. No good! I think grilling the tomatoes whole or cut into halves is the way to go though, and then slicing after the trip to the grill. Also, these tomatoes are so juicy that you want to eat your sandwiches immediately. Grilling the bread makes it nice and crispy, but given the opportunity (say, 15 minutes for photos) these sandwiches will become soggy. Also no good. 

A side note about that basil- as I was harvesting a gigantic bowl yesterday, I happened to start thinking about how much I've received from the herb garden. If you cook a lot, like me, you're probably buying fresh herbs often. Expensively. After yesterday's harvest, I've frozen a total of 8 bags of pesto this summer. Each bag holds an estimated $6 worth of fresh basil. That's $48 I've saved already! Not to mention all the times I've ran outside and grabbed a handful of basil leaves to add to a recipe. Even the smallest container of fresh basil at the grocery store is $3! Basil grows like crazy and is fairly low maintenance. In fact, all my herbs grow easily with little to no attention. An herb garden is a great way to dive into gardening without taking on the headache of growing vegetables. I highly recommend trying to grow your own herbs. 

The hubby and I actually have big plans for the weekend! We are heading up to Cincinnati for another weekend with his cousin. On Saturday, we're all headed to King's Island, which is a huge amusement park in these parts. Last time the hubby and I visited the park, we had a serious struggle over what to do. Due to my headaches, I don't really like to ride coasters. They rattle my brain around. The hubby, on the other hand, is my polar opposite in that department. Needless to say, our previous trip was spent mostly on kiddie rides and staying in the water park. This time, the hubby and his cousin can ride coasters to their hearts content, and the cousin's wife and I will stay quietly in the water park. This arrangement is much more up my alley, so I'm looking forward to a fun weekend. I've got some errands to run to prepare for the weekend, so I guess I better get going!

Happy Thursday friends!

Ingredients (makes 2 sandwiches):

2 ciabatta rolls, cut into sandwich halves
3 heirloom tomatoes, cut into halves
1 (8 oz) ball of fresh mozzarella, thickly sliced (you'll have leftovers)
Handful of large basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar


1. Heat gas grill to high heat.
2. When grill is hot, turn top and bottom burners to low. Turn middle burner to medium.
3. Place tomatoes on grill, cut side down. Grill for 3 minutes. Turn tomatoes over and grill for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and set aside. Place ciabatta rolls on grill. Grill for 1 minute. Flip, and grill for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
4. Assemble sandwiches. Slice tomatoes. Place a tomato slice on a half of roll. Place a slice of mozzarella on top. Place a couple basil leaves on top of cheese. Place another slice of tomato on top of basil, and repeat process. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over last layer of basil. Sandwich other half of roll on top, and serve immediately.

Looking for other sandwich and/or bread recipes? Try these!

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