Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Make Yourself a Fancy Italian Grilled Cheese & Soup

Minestrone soup and grilled cheese
So, say it’s this upcoming weekend. You’re home from the family. You have those cheeses I told you about yesterday. Life’s been crazy since Thanksgiving. You don’t feel like cooking a lot. You want to relax and catch up on Netflix. Here’s what you need to do.

One constant during my Food Studies experience was the amount of simple comfort food us students would look for during the stress times. For me, it was often grilled cheese and, when I was really lucky and smart enough to make a big pot ahead of time, I’d pair it with soup. But we’re not talking about your regular old orange cheese and butter on toast (though that is delicious). I got fancy and started brushing the bread with olive oil.

DOP_IGP Certified Logos
Sidenote: did you know that there are DOP-certified olive oils?! I didn’t. For work, I tasted too many olive oils to count and came away learning that I enjoy oils with a bright, grassy start and a slight spicy finish—a good happy medium that is surprisingly hard to find. In the past few weeks, I was introduced to Chianti Classico DOP Olive Oil and it fits the bill perfectly! Yes, Chianti is more known for its wine, but it is part of Tuscany, the picturesque land of olive groves. In fact, the olive oil consortium began as an offshoot of the wine consortium. Since certified oils can be found from almost every region of Italy, I highly suggest looking for this oil to begin experimenting with. And remember to look for the logos above!

Grilled cheese with olive oil
To make yourself a fancy grilled cheese: brush the bread with the Chianti Classico and add slices of the young Asiago and meaty Prosciutto di San Daniele. Be careful to use a lower heat that normal, as I find the olive oil method can get smoky. I also made this sandwich on some nice slices of Pullman bread, but really any soft white will do.

Italian soup and grilled cheese
If a sandwich isn’t enough for you, like maybe you want some soup? Tomato soup isn’t good enough for this level of fancy—you should try Ina Garten’s Winter Minestrone Soup. It has squash in it! It’s fancy Italian tomato soup with vegetables! And top it off with an older Pecorino Toscano, the cousin to Pecorino Romano, and another DOP product. For those that don’t know, Pecorino Toscano & Romano are sheep’s milk cheese and the aging process concentrates the nutty and sharpness, but it’s still creamy and melts wonderfully on hot soup. Feel free to drizzle some of the olive oil on that too.

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