This sandwich is dedicated to Kathy, who is in many ways my opposite but has the best insights on the Ames food scene and is a huge fan of beets.
One of my favorite local stores is an oil and vinegar shop by the name of Olivelle. It’s a relatively recent discovery for me but has quickly grown into quite the collection of balsamic vinegars, infused oils, and spice blends. I’ve featured some of their products before, mostly as salad dressings, but they are amazing on basically everything from breakfast to dessert.
Olivelle also does really fun cooking demonstrations where you watch four different courses being made and then get to enjoy eating them. It’s both delightful and delicious and makes for a fantastic girls’ night out. At my most recent attendance, there was a roasted beet salad with a blood orange fig dressing that kind of blew my mind. It was the perfect blend of savory and sweet and a truly great winter salad that I look forward to crafting next season (or maybe this one, if winter continues at its current velocity).
Inspired by the flavor combination, this week’s grilled cheese is highly non-traditional and equally delicious: roasted beets and feta, with an optional (but supremely recommended!) blood orange fig drizzle.
Although I really enjoy roasted beets, I’d somehow never purchased them before this adventure. One of the great things about running this blog is the incentive to step outside my box, and this was no exception to a quality outcome. Like sweet potatoes, beets take a while to roast but you could certainly do it ahead of time and reheat them a bit right before making the sandwich. It’s both a great way to use up leftovers from salad or breakfast hash and worth it to make them specifically for this meal, I promise. The beet and feta filling is not gooey like a traditional grilled cheese, but has a totally new flavor profile that really classes up the final result. It reminds me a bit of last year’s Boursin and veggie version in that it doesn’t stick together very well but is completely worth the slightly messier experience.
Naturally sweet, the beets lend a harmony of sweet and savory that is balanced nicely by the Feta cheese (I also think chèvre would work splendidly), and complimented by my favorite sourdough bread. The denser bread contrasts nicely with the softened filling and the drizzle of blood orange balsamic dressing is the perfect addition to really up the wow factor. Delightful as an entrée or cut up for an appetizer, it was a win with four out of four taste testers and a really fun way to add a twist to an otherwise commonplace meal.
As an added bonus, the bright color of beets and balsamic drizzle give a professional presentation to the plate – great for parties! (Especially on a snazzy rectangular plate.)
Beet & Feta Grilled Cheese
Makes one sandwich
1 beet, peeled and diced into 1/4″ pieces (or smaller)
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup feta (or chèvre), crumbled
2 slices sourdough bread
olive oil or butter
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or coat with olive oil.
- In a small bowl, combine beet, oil, salt, and pepper and stir until evenly coated.
- Spread onto prepared pan and roast 20-30 minutes, or until fork tender.
- When the beets are nearly done, heat a small amount of oil or butter in a lidded nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat.
- In (the same) small bowl, gently stir together 1/4 cup roasted beets (you’ll probably have leftovers) with feta cheese.
- Place bread side-by-side in the pan and top one slice with beet and feta mixture. Cover with lid and cook until bread is golden and cheese is warmed through, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together Blood Orange Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic Vinegar until completely combined.
- Top beets with the other slice of bread (cooked side out) and remove sandwich to plate.
- Slice in half and (somewhat) optionally drizzle with blood orange fig dressing.
- Enjoy immediately!