Finding new recipes is always a blast. Though sometimes, I feel like my own creativity is being sapped and all I can do is make other people’s food. This is an adapted recipe, but I feel it needs some background.
For the past couple months I’ve been using vegetable purees hidden in many of the food I make. This idea came from Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food. That cookbook and its sequel, Double Delicious!: Good, Simple Food for Busy, Complicated Lives, have provided many a meal idea for my family. So back to the veggie puree. Every month with my monthly shopping trip I buy a bunch of veggies that quite frankly I normally have no idea what to do with: cauliflower, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and acorn squash. I also use carrots, but I always have those on hand. I steam or roast (based on which veggie), and then I plop it into my blender and blend until I get a puree hat is usually a slightly thinner consistency than applesauce. Then I divide them into baggies (usually half cup portions, sometimes more if I have a specific recipe in mind); label them with type, date, quantity (and sometimes recipe); and freeze them to use later. I’ve been planning a month’s worth of meals in advance, so I group the purees I need into the specific week I need them for (ie a quart size baggie labeled “week 1” can usually contain the purees I need for week 1). Any extras I store in a small tub in the freezer
These little purees then get added to a variety of recipes from chicken enchiladas, creamy chicken, tacos, pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, as a coating for breaded chicken and almost any recipe that does not (and sometimes does) already have veggies in it. Have I had any complaints from the kids? If they knew I might. Any time they ask “what are you adding?” I sidestep the truth and say “something that helps the coating stick”, or “just some seasoning”, or “some extra sauce.” Occasionally I’m completely honest when the kids see my blend up some onions or bell peppers to non-existence then add it to a sauce, then I say “oh this is onions, but I’ve blended them so that you won’t ever know they’re there, but we still get the great flavor.” I get replies like “oh, that’s a good idea!” I know. It is. Especially since my husband and I are both texture people.
Now, a while ago I tried the grilled cheese recipe in the DD cookbook. It called for 1/2 cup puree and 1/2 cup shredded cheese for 2 sandwiches. I was not cool with a 1 to 1 ratio of puree and cheese. As much as I like gushy grilled cheese I couldn’t risk it. SO I increased the cheese to about 1 1/2- 2 cups, and that did about 6-8 sandwiches. The first puree I used was a butternut squash. Never again for my grilled cheese. The kids didn’t notice but all of us adult were wondering why the sandwiches were so sweet. Blech. The next time I used a combo of acorn squash and cauliflower. Not bad. Now I use one or the other depending on how much I’m making, what I have on hand, and what cheese I use (I won’t use acorn squash if I’m using a white cheese, too obvious).
Now why am I mentioning all of this? Because using a veggie puree moistened the cheese enough for it to stick together, making it easier to put on a grilled cheese sandwich: now I can use good cheese and not sliced american cheese. And bonus there’s a bit of hidden veggie in it. Maybe not a lot, but better than nothing.
So when I came across the idea of pizza sandwiches from my new Taste of Home: Simple & Delicious, Second Edition: All-New, 242 Recipes and Tips (yes I have the 1st edition as well, awesome collection of recipes), I recognized the possibilities. The original recipe uses Italian bread, sliced mozzarella cheese (who ever has that on hand?), sliced tomato (as if my family would eat that), Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, and pepperoni. My modified recipe, uses shredded mozzarella 1/2 cup- 3/4 cup of Cauliflower puree (and maybe you don’t have it on hand, but you should start ;)), parmesan cheese, and pepperoni. I forgot about the garlic. Figures right?
To start, mix about 1 1/2 – 2 cup of mozzarella cheese, about 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and 1/2 – 3/4 cup veggie puree. If you’d like to add garlic salt add about 1/4 tsp. I added too much mozzarella (2 1/2 cup) to the cauliflower puree (just under 1/2 cup) you probably want a 3 to 1 or a 4 to 1 ratio. The 2 1/2 cup of mozarella mixture made about 9 1/2 sandwiches.
Though I didn’t have enough puree, the mixture crumbled nicely onto the bread. Any less and I would have spilled more cheese onto the grill than made it onto the sandwich. Next, butter your bread. I usually have a helper (sister, husband, child), go through and butter one side of a stack of bread. They get to keep tack for me of how many sandwiches they’ve buttered bread for. In the case of the kids I use it as a chance to practice some math skills, “We have 6 people eating, we want enough for everyone to have a sandwich and a half. How many should we make? If each sandwich needs 2 slices of bread how much bread do you need to butter?”
After buttering the bread, and preheating the grill (which I usually forget to do), we start assembling the sandwiches on the grill. Place one slice of bread butter side down on the grill. Sprinkle about a large pinch/small handful (or maybe about 1/4 cup –though that might be overestimating) of cheese mixture onto the bread. Add 4 slices of pepperoni, and then barely sprinkle a bit extra cheese on the pepperoni to help the sandwich stay suck together. Finally place a second slice of bread, butter side up, on the sandwich.
Grill on one side until cheese is starting to melt and the bread is lightly/medium browned (to your preference), the flip and grill until cheese is entirely melted and second side is browned.
Now in my brilliancy, I forgot to take a picture of the completed sandwich, with the melted mozzarella cheese the strings apart when you tear the sandwich apart. Alas. You’ll just have to imagine it. We served it with fresh veggies and tomato soup–though my sister and I warmed some pizza sauce and dipped our pizza sandwich in that instead of have the soup.
The kids really enjoyed this modified grilled cheese. The girls got especially excited when they heard there was pepperoni in it and their faces lit up with grins when they saw the melted mozzarella as it stretched.
makes 8 sandwiches
- 16 slices of bread
- softened butter or margarine to spread (about 1/3-1/2 cup)
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tsp garlic salt (optional)
- 1/2 – 2/3 cup cauliflower puree
- 32 slices of pepperoni (or more as desired)
- Mix cheese, garlic salt, and cauliflower puree in a bowl. Set aside.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread.
- Assemble sandwiches on preheated grill: slice of bread (butter side down); large pinch/small handful cheese mixture; 4 slices of pepperoni (or more if desired); additional sprinkle of cheese mixture; slice of bread (butter side up)
- Grill sandwiches until cheese starts to melt and bread is toasted. Flip sandwich and grill on other side until cheese is entirely melted and bread is toasted.
- Serve warm with tomato soup or warmed pizza sauce.