Pizza + Grilled Cheese = Pizza Grilled CHEESE!!!!!!
I mean, what can I say?
It’s basically a cheesy, melty, amazing, marriage of two of the best food items in all the lands. It’s really a thing of beauty and I can barely believe it never occurred to me to smash these two things together before. But, forgive me. Please.
This gooey sandwich baby has all the things we love about pizza–carbs, cheese, toppings–plus a buttery, crunchy, parmesan cheese crust that gets golden and crispy in a hot skillet.You could do a million and one pizza inspired fillings for this grilled cheese. I went with easy roasted mushrooms, spicy Italian sausage, lots of melty mozzarella, fresh basil, and some of my quick marinara–which I keep in frozen little ice cubes in my freezer. Which means as long as I have bread and cheese and cubes of frozen marinara in my freezer, I can have this. Danger. I made this for lunch and then dinner the same day and made googly-heart-emoji-eyes at it the whole time.
Pizza Grilled Cheese with Roasted Mushrooms and Italian Sausage
I’ve included my go-to recipe for quick marinara below, but you can totally use a prepared, jarred sauce. No probs.
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned
2 teaspoons olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
4 slices rustic bread
2 tablespoons softened butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
6 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cooked spicy Italian sausage link, sliced
1/4 cup marinara sauce, plus more for dipping
torn or shredded basil leaves
Start by roasting the mushrooms. Preheat the oven to 425ºF and lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil. Slice the mushrooms and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the mushrooms onto the baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms release all of their liquid and begin to brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spread the butter onto one side of each of the 4 slices of bread. Divide the parmesan into 4 equal-ish amounts and sprinkle over each buttered piece of bread, pressing the parm into the butter so it adheres nicely. Place 2 slices of bread, butter and parmesan side down (naked side up), in the warm skillet. Layer 2 slices of mozzarella onto each slice of bread, followed by a layer of sausage, mushrooms, a few spoonfuls of sauce, and a sprinkle of the basil. Tear the remaining slices of mozzarella into pieces and sprinkle over the top of the layers, then top with the remaining slice of bread, butter and parmesan side up. Cook the grilled cheeses over medium heat on one side until golden, crisp and the cheese is starting to melt.* Carefully flip over the sandwiches and cook on the other side until golden, crisp, and the cheese is very melty. Serve the sandwiches hot with additional marinara for dipping.
*to encourage melting, add a few teaspoons of water to the hot skillet and cover with a lid (if you don’t have a lid a sheet pan (the one you used to roast the mushrooms) works excellently in a pinch).
To freeze, I just spoon the cooled marinara into an ice cube tray or two, freeze until solid, and pop the frozen cubes into a freezer bag for using as needed.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced fine
1-2 minced cloves garlic
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1, 28-ounce, can crushed tomatoes
salt to taste
In a saucepan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, cook for a few minutes until the onions become transluscent. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes, cook an additional minute before stirring in the tomato paste. Continue to cook until the tomato paste becomes deep red. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and season with a pinch of salt. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if you like. Remove from the heat and use however you want–for pasta sauces, pizza, meatballs, whatever! Store any leftover sauce in an lidded container in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze as noted above.