March 11, 2013

Blackberry Basil Grilled Cheese

Yep, you read the title correctly. Sounds a little weird, I know.

But weird or no, it's also DELICIOUS. Trust me here, peeps. Have I ever steered you wrong?

I found this excellent flavor combination on Pinterest. And then I started experimenting to see if I could re-create the fabulous picture which set my mouth watering.

Turns out, I can.

And so can you!

The ingredients are basic, and the method simple. Even the Hubs could make this yummy grilled cheese (not that he actually will, but he could. In theory). This was so good I, ahem... tested it several times, with different variations.

Let's get stated with the ingredients:

I know this doesn't look like my regular ingredients photo, but it's because I tried this several times. The first time, I used Italian bread, Monterey Jack cheese, blackberries, basil, and butter (for the bread). The second time around, I changed the cheese and bread. And the butter. (But I only changed the butter because our commissary started stocking Kerrygold, which is pretty much the best tasting butter you can get here in the States... that I've tried so far).

The word you're looking for is... ANYWAY.

Ahem. Back to the recipe.

What I've discovered is, this recipe is highly versatile. Naturally I have a few tips for you. But for the most part, this dish is pretty impossible to screw up.

SO. The bread. You can pick your favorite, but choose a thicker cut. You definitely don't want a skinny mini bread. The blackberry juice and gooey cheese will disintegrate a bread that is too thinly sliced. I found that I prefer to thickly slice my own French bread (Quick tip: If using French bread, you often find air pockets in the slices. Try to avoid them so your cheese doesn't melt through).

Next, the cheese. Again, choose your favorite. I found the Monterey Jack was quite good, but the white cheddar was a-maz-ing. I really like the zing and the sharp kick from the white cheddar. I might try this again with Asiago or Stilton. Oooh, or Brie. Have fun with it!

Now that you've got your cheese and bread (both essential to a grilled cheese), let's deal with the blackberries. Place the blackberries (6 oz) in a bowl with high sides. Why the high sides? Because we're going to squish those babies, and they splatter!

Use your fork to mash the blackberries, like so:

Don't completely pulverize the berries, but squish them up so they're not too chunky. I'm way technical, right? Ha.

Now it's time for the basil. Here again, you have choices. I prefer to chop my basil (about 15 leaves) and stir them into the blackberries:

You could also leave the basil leaves whole, and simply layer them on your sandwich later. This will still taste yummy and look pretty, but I find it harder to eat the grilled cheese with whole basil leaves.

With all the prep work done, this grilled cheese comes together in a snap!

Butter your bread, and warm your skillet over medium-low heat. Place two slices of bread in the skillet, butter side down. Add a single layer of cheese, and then top with a few tablespoons of the blackberry mixture. If you chose to leave your basil whole, then top the blackberries with a few basil leaves:

Blackberries with basil mixed in, and blackberries with whole basil leaves

Add another thin layer of cheese, then top with a piece of bread (Without the additional layer of cheese, the blackberries will soak your bread. Make sure there is something between your fruit and the bread!).

Do you want to know the best way to get a perfectly toasted grilled cheese sandwich?

Leave it alone!

I know you may be tempted to move your sandwich around in the pan, or smash it down with your spatula. But please, please resist those urges. Your bread may stick a bit at first, but it will loosen... I PROMISE.

As the bread toasts, it will unstick from the pan. And that's when you know it's time for the flip. Wait patiently as the other side toasts as well. Don't turn up the heat, or any other crazy thing. The sandwich will cook about 3-5 minutes per side.

And, viola!

Enjoy the ooey gooey deliciousness that is Blackberry Basil Grilled Cheese.

Yes, it really is that simple. Like I said, so simple even the Hubs could do it.

Happy cooking, my friends! Please let me know if you try this with other cheeses or fruits, and how it turns out. As always, the traditional recipe is below.

UPDATE: Recently, I made this grilled cheese again, substituting the blackberries for blueberries. The result? YUM! 

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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Blackberry Basil Grilled Cheese


6 slices of your favorite bread (I prefer French)
6 ounces fresh blackberries
15 basil leaves (either chopped or whole)
10 ounces cheese, thinly sliced  (your favorite, I prefer white cheddar)
Softened butter


Butter one side of your bread slices, then set aside. Smash the blackberries with a fork. Stir the basil (if chopped) into the blackberries.

Warm a skillet over medium-low heat. Place 3 slices of the bread, butter side down, in the skillet. Add a thin layer of cheese on each piece of bread. Top with 2 tablespoons of the blackberry mixture. If leaving the basil whole, add several leaves on top of the blackberries. Finish with another layer of cheese, then top with the remaining bread slices.

Cook for 3-5 minutes per side, until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted.


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