A grilled cheese may not seem like a recipe worthy enough of a dedicated blog post, but don’t let the simplicity of this delightful sandwich fool you. Recently we visited one of our favorite Greek restaurants Estia (located on Spring Garden) for dinner. We love Estia so much that we’ve become familiar faces to the resto, and even have our own designated “spot” we prefer to sit (right by the window) if we can get it.
While dining at Estia I decided to get adventurous and try a new panini. Typically I always get the exact same thing (mostly because it’s delicious and I know what I’m getting it going to satisfy), but this time I branched out and decided that the applewood smoked cheddar and pineapple chutney sounded like a good idea. I remembered that one of the previous servers Mitch (yes we were on a first name basis) had suggested it a while back that it was his favorite and I’d been meaning to try it for a while.
Despite the shocking emergence of menu courage I was still reluctant to try a new one when the server came over to take our order, and so I asked him as well which was his favorite panini. The server (not knowing my internal debate) suggested the applewood smoked cheddar panini as well, and so I figured what the heck! You never know if you don’t try!
I have to say that I was more than happy about my decision and my dinner date might have even developed some dinner plate envy after trying a bite too! The smoked appewood panini is a must try that’s for sure the smokey cheese with the sweet pineapple chutney is a perfect balance and I strongly recommend it for any cheese lover!
My recent experience to Estia sort of spawned an interest in applewood smoked cheddar and by interest I mean slight obsession because it’s all I’ve been eating lately hence this recent recipe. You might be thinking okay you swapped out the cheese and put in a different kind big deal, but you are sadly mistaken blog reader because this cheese is a game changer and you have to try it out to know what I mean.
Applewood Smoked Cheddar Panini w/ Tomato & Bacon
Multi-grain or wholegrain bread
Applewood Smoked Cheddar (cut into thin slices)
1 -2 Stripes of Chicken or Turkey Bacon (reduced salt)
Club House Spicy Pepper Medley or fresh cracked pepper
Cook bacon according to package directions, and set aside. The reason I recommend turkey or chicken bacon over regular is because it’s substantially lower in saturated fat, and I try to find ones that are lower in sodium. I also do not eat any red meat or pork in my diet as it is my personal preference, but I think everything is okay in moderation, and so if you dislike turkey bacon by all means go for the good stuff.
Heat large skillet or grill (medium heat).
Spread some olive oil over bread, and place bread in pan (or on press) olive oil side down. Start building your sandwich, cheese, tomato (sprinkle w/ pepper) and top with bacon. You can add a little bit more cheese on top of the bacon to help it stick to the bread (optional). Honestly you want to be really be skimpy with the cheese (trust me) because it’s very strong so a little goes a long way! Finally add your additional piece of bread olive oil side facing up so it doesn’t stick when you flip it over or when you close your panini press (if you are using one).
I served my sandwich with a roasted red pepper and tomato soup, but it would also go really well with butternut squash soup!
Now what should you do with all the extra bacon? Freeze it!
HOW TO FREEZE BACON: A really great tip for freezing bacon is to separate stripes onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze the entire tray for a couple of hours. Once the bacon is frozen remove the cookie sheet from the freezer and you’ll be able to pick them up easily and put them in a ziploc freezer bag. I think this little trick is genius because it prevents the pieces from being stuck to together in one big clob. When you freeze the stripes individually it makes it really easy to can grab one or two pieces at a time as needed which is perfect for portion control.