A New Grilled Cheese Sandwich

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Melding Your Way from the Middle East to Mexico and Middle Americana in One Recipe

My kingdom for a couple of slices of white bread for my grilled cheese sandwich!

Drat! I was forced to make do with frozen pita bread, my last minute option. Eureka! Here is a new way to serve grilled cheese sandwiches or lightening-fast quesadillas — Pita Quesadillas! — a favorite Mexican appetizer. Did I mention easy-peasy?

Pita bread, a round, flat bread from the Middle East, offers toothiness along with nutty flavor.

Cookshare pita used for grilled cheese
Note the difference in surface texture between exterior and interior pita. The craggily interior soaks in the butter in the pan to yield a crispy exterior.

I also soon learned if you turn the pita inside out—to make the pocked interior the exterior— like a sponge it soaks up the pan butter and crisps the sandwich. Skip the traditional mess and time by tossing the butter directly into the pan.

To make this sandwich a Pita Quesadilla add a light touch of chopped jalapeños, cooked sausage, or thin tomato slices; I’ll show you below.

I prefer to buy good quality block cheese and slice it with a serrated (bread) knife into 1/8-inch slabs. You can then cut these into smaller pieces to place onto the pita in a single layer. You need about 2-1/2 slices per one pita.

INGREDIENTS:

Serves 2-4 as appetizer or 1 to 2 as a sandwich

PITA GRILLED CHEESE

Grilled Cheese
butter melts into pita and crisps it

butter 2 TBS.
pita bread 2 rounds (8-inch). I used Trader Joe’s brand
mustard 2 TBS.
cheese, cheddar 5 slices 1/8” thick, or Monterrey Jack, or cheese combo of choice

OPTIONS: cooked bacon bits, thin tomato slices, drained on paper toweling

PITA QUESADILLA

  • Omit the mustard and choose one or more below
    pickled jalapeños 2 TBS. chopped
    tomato 1 small thinly sliced rounds, drained on paper toweling
    chorizo sausage 1/4 cup browned and drained
    cilantro 1/4 cup loose packed, coarsely chopped
    SERVING SUGGESTION: salsa, pico de gallo

Try to source good quality pitas from Middle Eastern stores. I also like Trader Joe’s pita, if available. Pita freezes well. Look for thin rounds, about 8 inches in diameter.

Cookshare suggestion to use scissors to cut griled cheese pita
A new kitchen tool! Use scissors to split the pita half. Scissors are also nice to cut up the hot sandwiches.

Halve the pita and then using scissors cut each into half-rounds to produce 4 half-rounds. Flip them on the cutting board so the exterior is facing up.

For grilled cheese, add mustard, then add the cheese. Place the cheese within a 1/2-inch of the edges. You don’t need to be precise; the cheese will melt and fill in the blank spots.

 

 

Pita Grilled Cheese option
For Pita Grilled Cheese spread mustard on the exterior of the pita. Lay cheese down leaving a little gap along the edges so cheese will meld into it.

Preheat a large skillet on medium heat, (non-stick is a good choice). Add the butter and then the pitas in a single layer. You may need to cook them in multiple batches. When bottom develops brown spots, flip (2-3 minutes) and repeat. Allow to cool a minute and then cut and serve immediately or keep warm.

To make Pita Quesadillas, eliminate the mustard and include small amounts of any variety of Mexican toppings along with the cheese.

Plan a Pita Quesadilla Party! Set up a condiment bar. It takes only minutes to make up and grill. Have the Margaritas chillin’.

MASTERY EN PLACE:

Letting Go and Braving New Culinary Frontiers

In my cooking classes students often struggled making quesadillas. I soon realized they weren’t familiar with the dish and the name. My disarming solution was to let them know they’re making grilled cheese sandwiches from Mexico. It was a pleasure to watch the tension release as they got back into the dish.

Be brave and fearless with new cooking styles. It’s only food. If you fail there is always the dog bowl or compost pile. But, many times, trust me, something new comes of it.

IN•CITE

If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story. – Terry Pratchett

© Bill Hettig, billhettig@mac.com

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