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Grilled Mozzarella & Pecorino with Tomato & Basil

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Serves four.

  • To learn more, read:
    Grilled Cheese
  • by Laura Werlin from Fine Cooking
    Issue 57

Vacuum-packed mozzarella tends to be dry and easy to grate. If it's in whey or water, you'll need to pat the cheese dry and then chop it.

  • 4 tsp. salted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 slices (1/4 inch thick) Italian country bread
  • 6 oz. mozzarella, coarsely grated or chopped (to yield about 2 cups)
  • 2 oz. finely grated aged Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano (to yield about 1/2 cup)
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced
  • 1 to 2 medium plum tomatoes (about 1/2 lb. total), sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest

Butter all the bread slices on one side only. Put four slices, buttered side down, on a cutting board. Distribute the mozzarella over the bread and follow with the Pecorino or Parmigiano (about 2 Tbs. per sandwich). Top with the basil, the tomato slices, a sprinkling of salt, and the lemon zest. Put the remaining bread, buttered side up, on top.

Heat a large nonstick pan or griddle over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Put as many sandwiches as will fit in the pan or on the griddle without crowding, cover, and cook until the cheese has just begun to melt and the bread is golden broown, about 2 minutes. Remove the lid and turn the sandwiches, pressing each one firmly with a spatula to flatten it slightly. Cook the sandwiches uncovered until the bottom is golden brown, about 1 minute. Turn them once more and press with the spatula again to recrisp the bread, about 30 seconds. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per sandwich; Calories (kcal): 280; Fat (g): 18; Fat Calories (kcal): 160; Saturated Fat (g): 11; Protein (g): 15; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5; Carbohydrates (g): 14; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 770; Cholesterol (mg): 60; Fiber (g): 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This sandwich sounds very tasty. I got some pecorino recently and am trying to find uses for it, but in reading the recipe, I'm wondering whether the bread and tomatoes shouldn't be sliced a bit thicker? Maybe it's a typo? 1/4 inch-thick slices of bread are pretty thin, about half the standard thickness of sliced bread, and 1/8 inch-thick slices of fresh tomato are pretty hard to achieve. I'm thinking it would make really tiny little sandwiches, but maybe that's the point? I haven't actually tried the recipe, so I"m giving it a neutral rating.

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