Caprese Grilled Cheese

fresh tomato, fried basil and fresh mozzarella on homemade sourdough bread - it's caprese grilled cheese!

 Pete Scherer

  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 1 sandwich (1 serving)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
777 Calories
36g Fat
84g Carbs
36g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 sandwich (1 serving)
Amount per serving
Calories 777
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 36g 46%
Saturated Fat 15g 73%
Cholesterol 71mg 24%
Sodium 1188mg 52%
Total Carbohydrate 84g 31%
Dietary Fiber 9g 34%
Protein 36g
Calcium 900mg 69%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Caprese means from Capri, the storied island off the western coast of Italy belonging to the region of Campania.

Traditional insalata caprese contains only raw tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, sweet basil, extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of good sea salt. Many variations on the internet contain vinegar, but this is blasphemous, as the strong acidity will overpower the tang of the tomatoes and the subtle flavors of the fresh cheese. Anyway, turning the salad into a hot sandwich is heretical enough without fundamentally altering the source material. This recipe is an attempt at a faithful translation. On the other hand, we don’t want to tell anyone what to do. If you want to use pesto, dried or cooked tomatoes, or even the blasphemous vinegar, have at it. But first try to get the basic elements in balance.

Though you could use cooked or dried tomatoes, we like to leave them raw. Stray too far into cooked territory and you lose the character of a caprese, flirting instead with a sort of french bread pizza or calzone. Raw tomato, however, contains a lot of liquid that can threaten the toastiness of your sandwich. In order to keep the bread from getting soggy, slice the tomato thinly, and fry the bread in perhaps a bit more olive oil than you might normally use for a regular grilled cheese.

The one major innovation here is to fry the basil. Flash fried herbs are fun and pretty, whereas warmed fresh basil turns brown. Just make sure the oil isn't too hot.

This sandwich is vegetarian friendly and perfect for a quick light lunch, dinner, or even cut up in smaller pieces for a canapé.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices lean crusty bread
  • 2-3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 6-8 large fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 ounces fresh ripe tomato, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather all ingredients.

  2. Slice the mozzarella and place the slices on a paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

  3. Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Do not allow the oil to smoke.Fry the basil leaves in the oil on both sides until bright, crispy and translucent, approximately 30 seconds. Be aware that the moisture in the basil may pop a little bit and possibly splatter a small amount of oil.

  4. Remove the fried leaves to the sliced bread and layer on the mozzarella and tomato. Fry the sandwich in the olive oil that remains in the pan until browned and melty. When flipping the sandwich, add more oil if necessary, then press the sandwich down with a spatula, or place a weight on top such as a small cast iron skillet. Pressing the sandwich as it cooks will help the cheese melt.

  5. Plate the sandwich and season with a sprinkle of sea salt. Serve immediately.

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