April is National Grilled Cheese month which is my excuse to eat all the grilled cheese variations I can think of. I don't really have an excuse for doing it all the other months except that it's delicious. I mean, seriously, bread and melty cheese is comfort food.
Growing up, I mostly saw the classic American cheese on white bread at school or friends' houses. My mother's versions tended to be a little more involved and interesting and she was obviously way ahead of her time. The most common cheese in Middle Eastern cuisine is feta and yes, it does melt! Thick slabs of feta, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with za'atar and melted over bread is an amazing taste treat. You can just leave it at that or add some more substance with my favorite beet and chickpea combination. It's like falafel but in patty form so we basically have a veggie burger with melted cheese. Yum!
- 1 beet (peeled)
- 1 cup chickpeas (cooked; canned is fine)
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt (to taste)
- Black pepper (to taste)
- 8 slices bread
- 1 cup spinach
- 4 slices feta cheese (approximately 1 ounce each, at room temperature)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon za'atar (more or less as needed)
Gather the ingredients.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 F.
Peel and quarter the beet and add it to a food processor. Pulse a few times to break up the beet.
Then add the chickpeas and tahini sauce and pulse a few times.
Then add the parsley, breadcrumbs, cumin and garlic powder. Pulse a few more times to combine then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide the dough into four parts and form patties about 1/2-inch thick.
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes on one side.
Flip and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the temperature up to 400 F.
Prepare the sandwiches by adding an equal amount of baby spinach leaves to four slices of the bread. Top each with a beet and chickpea patty followed by a slice of the feta cheese. Drizzle approximately one teaspoon of olive oil over each, sprinkle on some za'atar and top with the remaining four slices of bread.
Drizzle the tops of each sandwich with the remaining olive oil, place on the same baking sheet the patties were on and return to the oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the bread is a light golden brown and the cheese has started to melt.