January 15th, 2011

Thank goodness for the three-day weekend! The new year is already starting off a bit hectic, so I was definitely in need of some comfort food (and this week’s recipe certainly hits the spot). With those dreaded 8AM classes, a new menu to memorize at work, and the never-ending search for internships, I was more than happy to have an extra day off to enjoy a comfort food favorite.

This grilled cheese ain’t no ordinary sandwich though. It’s got double the amount of cheese with Muenster cheese in the middle and parmesan-crusted bread that resembles a Monte Cristo sandwich (you know, those sandwiches they serve at the Blue Bayou restaurant inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland). For those of you who have never tried Muenster cheese, it’s a soft and mellow white cheese with an orange rind that is oh-so-perfect for melting!

Originating from San Francisco, this sandwich is typically referred to as the “Golden Gate Grilled Cheese.” Unfortunately it’s not the healthiest sandwich, so I made adjustments to the recipe. Instead of deep frying the bread in butter, I substituted olive oil by using this conversion chart. Butter, which is a form of animal fat, is high in saturated fatty acids, which increase your blood cholesterol level and increase your chances of heart disease. Olive oil, on the other hand, comes from a plant fat that is composed of monounsaturated fatty acids (the good kind of fat!). This is one of the concepts that has stuck in my mind ever since I took a biology & chemistry of cooking class at UCI (and one of the most important rules of thumb when it comes to cooking healthy food). Remember: plant fats contain mostly unsaturated (good) fatty acids, which have a kinked shaped, whereas animal fats contain mostly saturated (bad) fatty acids, which have a straight-line shape, allowing more of them to be tightly packed together (you can learn more about the chemistry behind lipids here).

Another major change I made to the recipe was using Trader Joe’s Seeded Harvest Bread instead of the suggested sourdough. Made from rye flour, this bread is perfect for a grilled cheese as it produces a crispier texture (not to mention, it’s full of fiber!). Its flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds also provide more nutritional value. Did you know that two-thirds of the world’s dietary protein comes from seed intake? Never underestimate the power of the seed!

To save time, I used Trader Joe’s Avocado’s Number guacamole instead of avocado slices. I’ve always found this guacamole to be a bit on the plain side when it comes to flavor, so it’s a perfect substitute for pure avocados. Who wants to wait around for avocados to ripen anyway?

Lastly, I added red onion slices to bring some extra crunch and flavor to the sandwich. For all of you hungry folks out there, this is a flavorful sandwich to healthily spoil yourself with when you want a filling meal. Just because you’re a hungry monster doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy at the same time. Nom nom nom!

The Hungry Muenster’s Grilled Cheese
Adapted from Noble Pig
Makes 1 sandwich

2 ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/8 cup milk
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
2 slices Trader Joe’s Seeded Harvest Bread
3 slices reduced sodium turkey breast
Trader Joe’s Avocado’s Number guacamole
½ tbsp chopped cilantro
Red onion slices
2 slices Muenster cheese

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, garlic and chile flakes.  In a medium bowl, whisk egg and milk.  Spread Parmesan on a plate.

In a large frying pan, heat half of the olive oil mixture over medium heat for 1 minute.  Dip 1 bread slice in egg mixture, coating one side only.  Dip coated side into Parmesan.  Place to one side in frying pan, cheese side down.  Repeat with 1 of remaining bread slices.  Arrange turkey, guacamole, cilantro, red onion and muenster on slices, dividing evenly with the muenster cheese slices being the closest ingredient to the bread slices.

Dip remaining bread into egg and then Parmesan.  Arrange on sandwiches cheese side up, and cook over medium heat until undersides are crunchy-golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.  Lift sandwiches and add remaining olive oil mixture to pan; flip and cook until second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes more.

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