Sandwich #84–“On the Mend” Roasted Tomato and Cheddar Grilled Cheese

By 300 Sandwiches

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#84tomatocheddar The flu. It ain’t pretty. Stuffy, runny nose. Body aches. Fever. Chills. I had it all, for what felt like forever. Finally, the symptoms eased tonight.

E had been a wonderful nurse. He’s been as attentive as possible without putting himself in the line of fire of my germs. He brought me tea, cooked me breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days and didn’t look at me cross eyed when I cried this morning and declared, “I’m tired of being sick!” I do that after four days of any illness. Ask my mother–pneumonia at aged 8, bronchitis when I was 16, strep throat when I was 24 and again at 27. Always on that fourth day, I have a psychotic break where the mind succumbs to my weakened body and I feel the end is nigh. “I can’t TAKE it anymore!” I whine, dramatically hurling a tissue over my shoulder for effect.

Of course, hours later the fever magically breaks. The runny nose stops running. I’m back at school or work the next day.

After sleeping for four days and watching all of the bad TV Time Warner Cable had to offer, my body felt strong enough where I could stand in the kitchen long enough to make grilled cheese sandwiches.

When I was sick, I remember my mom making me grilled cheese and tomato soup on the day when I could stomach more than just toast. Mom was an amazing nurse. A thermometer in one hand, Nyquil or Tylenol in the other, and the doctor on speed dial. She, too, never judged when I hit that mental wall on day 4. “Girl, you’ll be alright,” she said. Mom is always right.

I wanted to make E and I a small version of mom’s grilled cheese and soup, so I roasted some tomatoes and made small grilled cheese bites for a late night bite. I didn’t make full sized sandwiches with these because my appetite wasn’t huge and we’d eaten a small snack a few hours earlier. But they were great to munch on before I took my Nyquil and headed to bed. Melted cheese on toast was always comforting, and those warm, sweet tomatoes added healthy nutrients, too.

“These are good, honey,” E said, eating two, including the one I made for myself. “Glad you’re feeling better.”

Awesome. Just awesome. Now, IMHO, raw tomatoes simply don’t belong on a sandwich. Peeled and in bruschetta pomodoro? Yes, indeed. But the seeds and gooey-ness of it ruin a sandwich. But something magical happens to tomatoes when you roast them in the oven with lots of salt, pepper, basil (or rosemary) and cayenne that makes them perfect for any sauce or just on their own.

4 small tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/4 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
4 slices bread (I used a small loaf of crusty Italian, worked for bite-sized sandwiches)
3-4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
3-4 leaves basil, chopped
pat of butter

First roast tomatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Blanch and peel tomatoes. Cut into quarters and place in shallow, oven safe dish or pan. Coat with garlic, parsley, sea salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper and drizzle olive oil on top. Make sure all tomatoes are evenly seasoned with the herbs and oil. Place in oven for about 30 minutes, rotating pan from front to back at least once. Remove from oven when tomatoes are soft and mushy, but not blackened.

Next, assemble sandwiches: on one slice of bread, layer slices of cheddar cheese. Then place a tomato or two on top of cheese. Sprinkle basil on top, then top with another slice of bread. Place a pat of butter in a nonstick skillet and warm skillet on low heat. Place sandwiches in skillet and warm until cheese melts. Flip sandwich once carefully with spatula. Remove from skillet when ready, and serve. Makes two sandwiches.

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