Thursday, April 17, 2014

Marghertia Pizza Grilled Cheese

I love pizza almost as much as I love sandwiches.

The combination of melted cheese, chewy crust and meaty toppings get me every time. Note that I said meaty toppings.  As a reformed picky-eater, I have come a long way in trying and liking many new foods but try as I may, I can’t quite seem to like vegetables on my pizza.

I know it’s weird. People swear I’m missing out on so much.  If I judged pizza on looks alone, I would be all for the beautifully topped Hawaiian or Vegetarian pizzas, but they just don’t do it for me taste-wise. Give me a classic pepperoni, or one topped with multiple kinds of meat (like ham, salami and bacon), a cold beer and a stack of napkins and I’m all set for pizza night.

Who knew Scotland would have the best Margherita pizza?
The one exception to my meat-only pizza preference is the Margherita Pizza.  It’s the simplest pizza out there: basic tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and sometimes chopped cherry or grape tomatoes. Nothing that fancy  but when it’s baked fresh on a thin crust, with the cheese hot and bubbling, mixed in with the invigorating scent of basil, Margherita Pizza has the power to trump my cherished pepperoni any day.

Week Two of National Grilled Cheese Month inspired me to forge a bond between two of my great loves - pizza and sandwiches – in trying out a Margherita Pizza Grilled Cheese. The result was molto bello!

As for any good pizza, use simple, sweet, fresh ingredients.
You will need:

Sourdough bread or Italian baguette
Slices of mozzarella cheese
A handful of grape tomatoes, sliced
2-3 medium leaves of fresh basil
Butter (Garlic butter would be excellent for this sandwich)
A skillet, lid and spatula
Spicy pizza oil for dipping

1-Spread the butter on the outsides of the bread.

2-Place the cheese slices, tomatoes and basil on the non-buttered side of one bread slice.

3-Cover with another layer of cheese (this ensures the sandwich and all the fillings will melt together). 

Layering the cheese is key for maximum melting.
4-Assemble the sandwich with the other piece of bread, buttered-side out.

5-Place the sandwich carefully in the middle of the skillet on medium heat.

6-Cover with a lid and let it grill 4-5 minutes (remember: low and slow) before carefully flipping it over. Try not to lose any tomatoes in the flipping process!

7-Press down on the sandwich with the spatula as the second side grills and the cheese begins to melt everything together.

8-Remove from heat, slice and serve with some spicy pizza oil for dipping.

Spicy pizza dipping oil and a herb garden view!
What I enjoyed most about turning one of my favorite pizzas into a sandwich was how each bite was a different surprise: a juicy mouthful of grilled tomato, a sweet nibble of basil leaf, slightly crunchy from the heat, or a warm bit of melted mozzarella. No ketchup for this sandwich; spicy pizza oil is the appropriate condiment for this pizza-turned grilled cheese creation.

Any kind of pizza would make a tantalizing grilled cheese incarnation, so I challenge you to forego the pizza delivery one night and get creative with the pizza-sandwich possibilities instead. Just as I was pleasantly surprised to find the best Margherita Pizza in Scotland, of all places, you may surprise yourself with what you create right at home.

Margherita Pizza Grilled Cheese

Pizza Postscript:

The best Margherita Pizza I’ve ever had was at Di Maggio’s, in Glasgow, Scotland.  Sit on the patio outside and admire the view of the Modern Art Gallery across the street while you eat.

My Top 3 Pizza Places in Edmonton are:

1-Millcreek Pizza – Just south of the Whitemud, this is a little gem of a neighborhood pizza place. Their menu has all the classics, plus some India-spirations, like Butter Chicken, Shahi Paneer and the Trucker (pepperoni, ham, salami, Italian sausage and jalapeños!). The pizza is exceptional and the service is lovely; we order from them so often, they recognize us and treat us like family.

2-Parkallen Restaurant – The Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisine of this place is hard to beat but the pizza is truly legendary.

3-Royal Pizza – I’ve included this place mostly for sentimental reasons as it’s where my husband and I had our first official date. We met halfway between our places at the Calgary Trail location and split a large pepperoni pizza. True love at first pizza slice!

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