Sure, your kids love grilled cheese. But if all you’re putting in the sandwich is just cheese and bread, you’re making it a lot more boring that it could be. Have you ever tried bacon in your grilled cheese, for example? Or portobello mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and grilled eggplant? Or…potato chips?
Recently we had a chance to join Tillamook (the cheese people) for a special event on their Loaf Love tour when it stopped in L.A. One of the featured attractions was a massive make-your-own grilled cheese bar. You get your bread, your cheese…and beyond that, the sky’s the limit. We saw salmon, kale, pesto sauce, and even yogurt (?!?) to choose from as we worked our way down the line.
For kids, we love the idea of encouraging them to make all sorts of wacky creations with their grilled cheese sandwiches. Give them a bunch of healthy options and you might be surprised what they go for. Or make “grilled cheese bar” your Friday night tradition, and you might generate some renewed interest in that week’s leftovers. Would you believe… Chili grilled cheese? Grilled vegetable grilled cheese? Spaghetti grilled cheese? OK, now perhaps we’ve gone overboard.
For Jolly Tomato’s entry into the grilled cheese contest, we (Jeanne and the junior Jolly Tomatoes) created a “Fourth of July Firework” grilled cheese sandwich: a grilled cheese with bacon, red onions, and pickles arranged in a firework-style burst on top of the grilled cheese. With the second slice of bread on top, we made a little firework design with mustard on the outside of the sandwich. When it went on the grill, the mustard cooked a little darker so we had a firework imprinted on the outside of the sandwich.
And? Boom! We won an award for Most Creative sandwich.
Want some more ideas? Here’s a sampling from Tillamook’s lineup:
For the meat/fish selection: Turkey, salami, ham, grilled chicken, bacon, smoked salmon
For the fruit/vegetable selection: Grilled asparagus, grilled carrots, grilled zucchini, grilled eggplant, grilled portobello mushrooms, grilled onions, marinated mushrooms, marinated sun-dried tomatoes, avocados, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, red onions, kale, spinach, arugula, pineapple.
For the salad and condiment selection: Coleslaw, pasta salad, mustard, mayonnaise, guacamole, pesto, pickles, ranch dressing.
There was yogurt there too but we’re not sure if that was for adding to the sandwiches or just eating. But hey – it’s your grilled cheese; make it however you like.