In grilled cheese circles, there is plenty of debate about the proper tools for making a great sandwich. Nonstick pan? A well-seasoned cast-iron skillet? A panini press or sandwich maker? Why not an open grill? It's just one way to get creative with the classic sandwich. This is the ultimate grilled dish. Awesome grilled cheese sandwich Makes 9 sandwiches Ingredients: 18 slices bread 4 tablespoons butter 9 slices cheddar cheese Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter one side of 9 slices of bread, and place butter-side down on a baking sheet. Arrange cheese on each slice of bread. Spread butter on 9 remaining slices of bread, and place them buttered-side up on top of the cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Flip the sandwiches and bake an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Nutrition information: Per sandwich: 293 calories (50 percent from fat), 16 grams total fat (10 grams saturated), 44 milligrams cholesterol, 25 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein, 497 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber. Pesto grilled cheese Note: A mixture of cheeses is usually advised, but should the cheese be sliced or shredded? This grilled cheese recipe opts for slices and sneaks a little bit of pesto and a slice of tomato into the melt. Makes 1 sandwich Ingredients: 2 slices Italian bread 1 tablespoon softened butter, divided 1 tablespoon prepared pesto sauce, divided 1 slice provolone cheese 2 slices tomato 1 slice American cheese Spread one side of a slice of bread with butter, and place it, buttered side down, into a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spread the top of the bread slice in the skillet with half the pesto sauce, and place a slice of provolone cheese, the tomato slices and the slice of American cheese onto the pesto. Spread remaining pesto on one side of the second slice of bread, and place the bread slice, pesto side down, onto the sandwich. Butter the top of the sandwich. Gently fry the sandwich, flipping once, until both sides of the bread are golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes per side. Nutrition information: Per sandwich: 517 calories (64 percent from fat), 37 grams total fat (20 grams saturated), 82 milligrams cholesterol, 27 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 1,143 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber. Mozzarella with crispy prosciutto, broccoli rabe Note: This one is gourmet all the way. Makes 4 sandwiches Ingredients: 8 thin slices prosciutto (about 4 ounces) 1/4 cup olive oil 12 ounces broccoli rabe (about 1 bunch), tough stems removed and coarsely chopped (or use Swiss chard or Tuscan kale) 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1/8 teaspoon salt 8 sandwich-size slices Italian bread (or use sourdough) 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, drained and sliced if water-packed; otherwise coarsely grated Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and line a plate with paper towels. Add the prosciutto slices to the skillet (you may need to do this in batches) and cook until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to the paper towels to drain. The prosciutto will become crisper as it cools. Add enough oil to make 2 tablespoons fat in the pan. Heat over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the broccoli rabe. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, tender and bright green yet caramelized around a few of the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. (Add water to the pan if it seems dry.) Add the lemon juice, red pepper flakes and salt and toss to coat. Transfer the broccoli rabe to a plate. Wipe out the skillet but don't wash it. To assemble: Brush the remaining oil on one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices of bread, oil side down, on your work surface. Distribute the broccoli rabe and follow with the prosciutto. Pile the cheese on top, compressing it with your hand if necessary, and top with the remaining bread slices, oil side up. For stovetop method: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches into the pan, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches, pressing each one firmly with a spatula to flatten slightly. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the undersides are well browned. Remove the cover, turn the sandwiches once more, and press firmly with the spatula once again. Cook for 1 minute, or until the cheese has melted completely. Remove from the pan and let cool for 5 minutes. Cut in half and serve. For sandwich maker method: Preheat the sandwich maker. Follow directions for assembly above. Cook according to manufacturer's instructions.
Mike Ransdell/Kansas City Star/MCT
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