Today was the last day of Christmas break for the kids … the last day for them to play with all their new toys unfettered. Their last day to ride bikes and build Lego houses with each other all day. Their last day to watch cartoons over lunch. So, I thought something warm, toasty and buttery was in order — it’s been a great break from school and heading back to our regimented schedule is kind of sad.
Hello, grilled cheese.
When I was a little girl, grilled cheese was one of my very favorite lunches. My grandmother would butter slices of perfectly square white bread and sandwich a slice or two of orange American cheese in the center, frying them to buttery, gooey cheesy goodness. I loved the texture variations of the sandwich — the smooth, warm cheese and the crisp toasted bread. I’d eat as much of the cheese as I could from the center before eating the bread.
I still love a good grilled cheese. But it’s definitely not the most lean of lunches — it can be though if you make a few small changes.
This version is of the classic grilled cheese has a few health-minded upgrades to make it a teensy bit healthier with more natural ingredients.
The white bread has been traded for more fiber-rich whole grain bread. It’s still buttered though … there is no substitute for butter in a grilled cheese. I’ve tried.
Instead of highly processed American cheese, this sandwich is made with a mix of shredded mozzarella cheese and provolone cheese. They have that same melt-factor that’s key to the sandwich.
And in the center? A little protein in the form of sliced meatballs.
The result is a delicious twist on the classic. It has a lot of the best qualities of classic grilled cheese, just stepped up a bit. And Will and Paige? They loved this, eating every last morsel and requesting more. They especially liked having meatballs in the center.
- 2 slices whole grain bread
- salted butter
- 2 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese, , divided
- 1 tbsp freshly grated provolone cheese, , divided
- 2 mini meatballs in sauce, , sliced
- Lay out the slices of bread and butter on one side each. Meanwhile, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Place one slice of bread butter side down in the pan. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of mozzarella on top followed by 1/2 tablespoon provolone. Line the cheese with slices of meatballs. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of mozzarella and 1/2 tablespoon of provolone on top. Cover with the second slice of bread, butter side up.
- Cook the sandwich 3-4 minutes, until golden on the side facing the pan. Flip carefully, press down slightly and then cover the pan. Cook for another 3-4 minutes until golden. The cheese should be all melty.
- Remove from the pan and let cool for a few minutes before cutting.
- Serve immediately.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.