i essentially doubled my cookbook collection a couple of weeks ago. food magazine editors are sent a lot of cookbooks for promotion, and, lucky me, i happen to know one who had acquired enough of them that she'd created a "free" box that i was invited to pilfer. i came home with 11 shiny new cookbooks, and food and gardening books. SCORE.
one book that seemed at first as though it had no reason to exist is called grilled cheese, please! i wasn't convinced that the humble (and, let's face it, already mastered) grilled cheese needed 148 dedicated pages, but i took it anyway. and it's spectacular.
the author, laura werlin, states in her forward that grilled cheese has "grown up." certainly, reading through the recipes she offers, i have to agree. she's using a range of rustic to fancy-pants cheeses and breads, and incorporates tons of other ingredients, including meats, fruits, veggies and pickles. some are dipped in jams or topped with relish. there are plenty of exciting, and a few downright weird, combinations.
we started with the mozzarella with crispy proscuitto and broccoli rabe recipe, substituting kale for the rabe since we have some growing in our backyard. we talked about this sandwich for days! things like, "i can't believe how much i liked that sandwich!" "yeah, i was just thinking that!" use good fresh italian bread and whole milk mozzarella and you can't go wrong. the recipe calls for crisping up the proscuitto in a skillet before assembling the sandwich, but it doesn't seem necessary to me. crunchy, crispy, gooey, salty, creamy yumminess!
grilled cheese with mozzarella, kale and proscuitto
makes 2 sandwiches
4 thin slices proscuitto
1/2 bunch kale, rough chopped
dash of red pepper flakes
4 sandwich-size slices italian bread
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, drained and sliced if water packed, otherwise coarsely grated.
heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. add kale and saute until wilted but still bright green. stir in red pepper flakes, if using. (if your mozzarella is really mild, you may want to add a dash of salt to the kale as well.)
to assemble: brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil. oil side down, add half of kale to two bread slices, then proscuitto, then mozzarella. top with remaining bread. you may need to compress the sandwiches with your hand or spatula if the cheese is piled high.
heat skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. lower sandwiches in pan, cover, and cook for about 3 minutes. (i know covering it seems weird, but laura insists it's the best way to get the cheese to melt before the bread has a chance to burn.) when browned, flip and cover and cook a minute or so more, until other side browned and cheese is melted.