Classic recipes hold this status for a reason.
They are the ones that we know and love. The ones that we’ve grown up with. The recipes that we embrace when we need a little bit of something familiar or comforting in our lives.
For me, grilled cheese is one of those cherished recipes.
Gooey cheese, sandwiched between pieces of bread that have been toasted golden brown. It’s a sandwich that we’ve all had time and time again, and if you are anything like me, it holds a special place in your heart.
Grilled cheese always evokes childhood memories for me, particularly ones of staying home from school as a kid when I had a cold. Alongside a bowl of tomato soup, it was one of my favorite things to eat.
This particular combination of flavors is one that I still fall back on when I need something to make me feel a little better. Whether I am sick or just had a rough day at work, a grilled cheese with tomato soup is just the thing to cure what ails me.
As I got older, I started experimenting with my grilled cheese sandwiches. From using pepper jack or brie to adding meat or fruit to the mix, I love making different creative spins on this recipe.
This particular variation is actually quite genius, since it hits all of my favorite flavor notes, no soup required.
It takes that classic soup and sandwich combination to new heights, all sandwiches between two slices of golden brown bread. You get the cheese and the tomato, but without having to make two recipes.
Instead, you’ll experience all the flavors you know and love in every crisp, gooey, cheesy bite.
How do we accomplish this? With homemade tomato jam!
This may strike you as a bit unusual, but it’s actually quite delicious. If you have never tried this combination, it’s time to go for it.
In fact, cheese and jam sandwiches are actually quite popular in England, and I fell hard for the recipe during my travels there. Among enthusiasts around the world, you’ll find a wide variety of options, both cold and melted, made with different types of hard or soft cheese that contrasts nicely with a sweet fruit jam.
Think of a Monte Cristo sandwich, with layers of savory sliced meat and melted Swiss cheese, dipped in sweet raspberry preserves. The combo of sweet and savory isn’t really that odd – it’s delicious!
The tomato jam used here offers a nice balance of sweet and savory, so it’s the ideal intro to the whole jam with cheese concept. (We could debate whether tomato jam qualifies as a fruit or vegetable jam – it is, in fact, a fruit!)
When put between two slices of bread, it’s absolutely divine, with an irresistible tangy sweetness. You won’t be able to stop yourself from devouring it in mere moments.
The mozzarella gives you all the perfect ooey-gooey goodness you need to make this sandwich ultra decadent. It’s just right for melting with a mild flavor, so it won’t overpower the other stars of the dish.
The layer of fresh basil brings a nice herbaceous note to top it all off. If you have any fresh basil growing in your garden, this is a fantastic way to use it. I like to keep an eye out at the farmers market for new varieties as well.
Ready to experience a whole new take on the comforting meal you love? Let’s dig in!Print
The classic grilled cheese sandwich you know and love gets an update with gooey mozzarella, basil, and homemade tomato jam.
- Butter one side of each of the pieces of sourdough bread.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. If your pan is large enough, you can make two sandwiches at a time. Otherwise, proceed with steps 3-4 for one sandwich, and then repeat the process.
- Once the pan is hot, place two slices of bread in the pan, buttered side down. Top each slice of bread with half of the mozzarella, half of the chopped basil, and half of the tomato jam. Place another slice of bread on top of each, buttered side up.
- Cook until the bottom of each is browned, approximately 2-3 minutes. Flip carefully with a spatula, cooking again until the bottom is browned and the cheese is melted.
- Remove from the pan, and slice in half with a serrated knife if desired. Serve immediately.
Keywords: grilled cheese, tomato jam, summer, comfort food, basil
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Slice, Chop, and Measure
Drain if necessary, and slice the ball of mozzarella cheese into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Set aside.
Remove basil leaves from the stems. Chop the leaves until you have about 1/4 cup.
Measure the remaining ingredients as listed.
Step 2 – Cook
Butter one side of each of the slices of bread. I like to use softened butter, which makes it easier to spread. For an extra touch of seasoning, feel free to use salted butter if you prefer.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, arrange two slices of bread side by side, buttered side down. If you do not have a pan that is large enough to cook two sandwiches at once, you can prepare one at a time instead.
Layer the bread with half of the mozzarella slices, sprinkle with half of the basil, and top with half of the tomato jam.
Top that with another slice of bread, buttered side up. Press lightly with a spatula.
Cook the sandwich until the bottom slice of bread is golden brown. This will take about 2-3 minutes.
Carefully flip the sandwich, cooking again until golden brown and the cheese is melted. If anything falls out, stick it back in there!
Transfer to plates, slice in half, and serve immediately.
Why Local, Seasonal Ingredients Are Key
When it comes to cooking at home, seasonal ingredients are the key to making your meals shine, no matter what month it is. And at least where I’m from, summer is the best time to take advantage of the bounty of backyard gardens and farm stands.
Fresh basil is growing at full power in my herb garden right now, and I’ve been trying to use it as much as possible so none of it will go to waste. But you can only eat pesto so many days in a row!
Bright, sweet tomatoes with their pure, garden-fresh flavor concentrated into jam form will make your taste buds exceedingly happy as you bite into this sandwich.
And locally made dairy products and bread contribute to this dish as well, making it something extra special.
When summer winds to a close and fresh, local tomatoes are no longer ripe for the picking, I won’t hesitate to pull this recipe out of the drawer and whip up a batch of tasty jam when tomatoes are on sale at the grocery store. But there’s just something about that pure, delicious flavor of produce harvested close to home, maybe even with your own hands, that makes it that much more delicious.
Are you growing tomatoes and basil in your garden this summer? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on June 22, 2012. Last updated: October 3, 2018 at 22:47 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.