I’m back in Montana after a week in Iowa for work, and the weather teased us with a beautiful weekend…followed by snow Monday evening. I know spring is a bit flaky here, but this really is feeling a bit unreasonable. The ski area is even closed, don’t the weather gods know when to stop?
In any case I will admit it makes great weather for a cozy grilled cheese, and this is one of the coziest I’ve ever made. It was a huge hit in my test group (okay so it was only four people, but that is four more people than usually give me input) and definitely a close second favorite of mine for this year’s recipe bunch.
Lasagna is one of my favorite dishes and I could happily eat it weekly without complaint. (Especially the sweet potato and spinach version in my Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook – so good!) I opted to try a fusion dish this year and combine my favorite flavors of lasagna with the much less time-consuming preparation of grilled cheese.
I used a homemade pizza sauce I had in the freezer, but any jarred pizza or spaghetti sauce would work just fine. If you have omnivores to appease, a meat sauce would work splendidly – chorizo would add a nice kick too. Pick a sauce with good flavor as it’s a prominent part of the sandwich, but no need to slave all day unless you want to. Freshly sliced mozzarella is critical – you want none of that corn starch so often found in pre-sliced and pre-shredded cheeses which not only throws off the flavor, but simply does not melt as well. A spoonful of ricotta (I always use the whole milk version, but you do you) rounds out the lasagna palate we all know and love.
In order to create the most true-to-form experience possible, we use three (thinner) slices of bread and layer each filling twice between the trio. This admittedly makes it a bit messy to cut and eat, but it’s so worth it to have that extra bit of crisp bread in the center. French bread seemed the obvious choice to me, and a narrower loaf helps the sandwich from being too huge horizontally when it has a lot going on vertically as well. Cooking in garlic-infused olive oil gives that garlic bread essence without it being too overpowering, and if you don’t have the infused oil on hand I recommend adding a sprinkle of garlic powder to your regular olive oil while it’s heating.
Finish the whole shebang with freshly grated parmesan and black pepper (because parmesan is always the answer) and you have a new favorite comfort food. Some chopped and sautéed spinach would also be a great addition, especially if you weren’t planning to serve with a side salad or other vegetable. Just add a spoonful atop the ricotta and you are good to go.
A great way to use up leftover spaghetti sauce, I’m looking forward to this becoming a new go-to quick dinner in the future. If, like me, you don’t always have ricotta on hand, I’m thinking goat cheese would be a delightful substitute. If you give any version a try, let me know how it turns out!
Lasagna Grilled Cheese
Makes one sandwich
3 slices of French bread (1/4″ – 1/2″ thick)
2 pieces freshly sliced mozzarella (1/8″ thick)
2-4 Tbsp spaghetti or pizza sauce
2-4 Tbsp ricotta cheese
olive oil (recommend garlic infused – or adding a sprinkle of garlic powder)
parmesan, freshly grated
black pepper, freshly grated
- Heat olive oil in a medium pan over medium-low heat.
- Place all three slices of bread in the pan so they don’t overlap.
- Layer two slices with mozzarella, sauce, and cheese. (You want them to be covered but not overflowing, so likely about one tablespoon of each unless your bread is particularly wide.)
- Place the lid on the pan and heat for a few minutes, until empty slice is lightly golden on one side.
- Flip empty slice, replace the lid, and continue to cook until the other side is golden, fillings are warm, and mozzarella is beginning to melt.
- Top one of layered slices with the empty one, then carefully flip the remaining layered slice ricotta-side down on top of the stack.
- Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and black pepper and heat briefly to allow the layers to meld together.
- Serve immediately; pairs perfectly with a side salad and a glass of wine.
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