Crispy Broccoli Grilled Cheese

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My less than stellar (okay downright terrible) attitude toward winter has been well-documented on this blog, social media and in every in-person conversation I’ve had over the last three to four months. Winter is not my gig. Everyone knows.

But this morning when I woke up with just the tiniest hint of soreness in my legs and a little sunburn on my face from skiing on Monday, I got a little window into the minds of winter enthusiasts.

After spending several days this winter skiing with my kids and never making it past the rope tow, I was bemoaning my sad fate (hmmm…my complaining might be a problem) to my friend when she suggested we go on a mid-week ladies ski date. After a couple of weeks of back and forth we penciled in a date, changed it one more time and finally, finally went for it.

It was seriously the best day and such a special treat. It was a spectacularly beautiful day starting with a drive up the mountains where we no joke saw a bald eagle, sheep, elk and deer. White Pass received almost a foot of fresh snow over night and because it was a Monday, the resort was practically empty. My friend, who is delightfully adventurous, convinced me to ski through the trees for the first time ever and something in my scaredy-cat mind exploded that I actually did it (and survived!) and even kind of liked it.

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Which brings me to this grilled cheese sandwich: I’m telling you, if I can ski through trees, you can put broccoli on a sandwich. This recipe is loosely based on a recipe I found in a Tom Douglas cookbook. The sandwich is so full of flavor and has the perfect textures of toasted bread, gooey melty cheese and crispy savory broccoli. You sear the broccoli so it gets a bit charred, then toss it in balsamic vinegar and finish with a dash of red pepper flakes.

Crispy Broccoli Grilled Cheese Sandwich (makes 2 sandwiches)

  • 1 large or 2 small head of broccoli
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 4 slices of Havarti bread

Wash and rough chop the broccoli into small pieces. I break the head into florets and then cut them into 1 to 2 inch pieces. In a medium sauté pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the broccoli in the olive oil turning the pieces over so they get brown and crispy, about 5-6 minutes. Chop the onion and garlic and add to the pan, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and cook the vegetables until the onions are translucent. Salt and pepper liberally. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook until the vegetables have mostly absorbed the liquid, about 3-4 more minutes. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and allow to cool.

Layer bread with two slices of Havarti cheese and an even layer of the broccoli mixture. Butter the outside of the sandwich on both sides and cook over medium-low heat until both sides of the sandwich are golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes per side. Slice in half and devour.

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