Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Southwest Grilled Cheese

My friend Kristy is getting married, and I'm her maid of honor! Kristy was my randomly assigned roommate in the dorms freshman year, and we were pretty much inseparable from the moment we met. We had booze-addled study sessions to get through our philosophy homework together, stayed up until 4 am laughing every night, and had a million inside jokes. After freshman year, we moved into a big old house near greek row with a bunch of other girls, and then after that we got our first apartment together. Kristy was the one who introduced me to Evan, through her high school pal Bree (who's now one of my bff's too), and I introduced Kristy to her fiancĂ© Mark, though my friend from high school, Jimmy. 

Kristy was the inspiration behind this boozy kahula cake, and this chai-spiced biscotti. She also makes a killer taco salad with an unlikely combination of secret ingredients (including nacho cheese Doritos and creamy French dressing). When we lived together (for 5 years!) we pretty much always had an unending supply of black bean and corn salsa in the fridge. We went through phases where we practically lived on the stuff. We would mix up a giant bowl of black beans, corn, onions and bell peppers, sometimes with tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado, sometimes with sour cream. Then throughout the week we'd have it inside quesadillas, on salads, or simply with tortilla chips. 

It's also really good sandwiched between two pieces of chewy bread, grilled crispy, with melty cheese oozing out the sides. 

Southwest Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 bell pepper- diced
1/2 white onion- diced
1 tomato- diced
1/4 cup- finely cilantro
1/2 cup sour cream
juice of one small  lime
pinch cumin
salt, pepper

Unless you're making sandwiches for a crowd, you'll probably have extra salsa afterward, so get some tortilla chips too. 

Thick slices of sourdough bread
mayonnaise (I learned this trick from Ruth Reichl)
shredded cheese (I used white cheddar)

In a large bowl, mix together beans, corn, pepper, onion, tomato, and cilantro. Stir in sour cream and lime juice. Add cumin, salt, and pepper to taste.

To assemble: heat griddle over medium heat. Spread mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread. The mayo adds extra tang, and doesn't burn the way butter does. To assemble, add bread (mayo side down) to griddle, add a layer of cheese, a few big spoonfuls of the bean mix, and another layer of cheese. Top with second slice of bread (mayo side out) and grill several minutes on each side, until bread is crispy, and cheese is melty. Sometimes if the bread is crisping faster than the cheese is melting, I'll cover the griddle for a minute, which steams everything up to help melt the cheese. You might need to use two spatulas to flip without losing the filling. 
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