Nicola Collie / Gouda Grilled Cheese with Date + Sun Dried Tomato ‘Tapenade’
Gouda Grilled Cheese with Date + Sun Dried Tomato ‘Tapenade’
For the ‘Tapenade’
6-7 sun dried tomatoes (in oil or see below for oil soak, in which case you’ll also need olive oil, chili flakes and oregano)
5 large medjool dates, pitted
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp chopped shallot
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
salt + pepper
For the sandwich
Good quality, thick sandwich bread
~3-4 tbsp salted butter
Bitter greens (any salad green can work but a bitter green is preferable to contrast the fat in the cheese, butter and tapenade)
For the ‘Tapenade’
If your sun dried tomatoes are not already in oil, you can make your own. I prefer to buy dried tomatoes because then I can control the oil and flavors used. In this case, in a jar, submerge the whole sun dried tomatoes in enough olive oil to cover them, with a dash of red chili flakes and oregano. Let them sit for at least 2 hours.
In a mortar (very preferred) combine the sun dried tomatoes (removed from jar of oil), dates, a healthy pinch of course salt, and the garlic. Mash until you develop a chunky paste. If you don’t have a mortar you can use a food processor but pulse very gently. If you don’t have either you can use a knife and make an old-style paste by continuously chopping on the cutting board.
Once combined, add the chopped shallot, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and a dash of pepper. Continue to combine, taste and add anything accordingly to balance. Remember that the garlic and shallot will intensify over time! Place in a jar and refrigerate, preferably overnight but at least 30 minutes.
Assembling the sandwich
Cut the bread to desired thickness; not too thin, otherwise it will burn and not hold up, not too thick otherwise the cheese won’t melt enough.
Thinly slice the gouda for enough slices to layer once in the sandwich.
Heat a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add a small knob of butter and toast two pieces of bread on one side only. Turn off the burner.
Once toasted, remove and prepare cheese on one slice, toasted side up, and a nice schmear of the ‘tapenade’ on the other, toasted side up. You’ll end up with the toasted sides as the inside of the sandwich and the untoasted sides on the outside.
Return the burner to medium. Once heated, add another knob of butter and place the cheese side of the sandwich face down in the pan. Keeping an eye, grill until nicely browned, flip the sandwich gently with a spatula and repeat on the other side. Once grilled and melted, return to a cutting board and gently lift the ‘tapenade’ side of the sandwich and place some greens inside. Cut in half and enjoy!