January 14, 2009

Grilled Red Pepper Relish and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

This qualifies as my second vegetarian dinner for the week. It sounds a little fancy-pants, but it could not be easier. Truthfully, I am okay with easy. As much as I like to cook, I really appreciate quick meals when life gets hectic. My life certainly qualifies as hectic, lately. As I mentioned yesterday, my kid is on a no-napping streak...which only makes matters worse. After a busy morning, I look forward to a two-hour break while the little bugger naps. As I type this, I am listening to a rousing chorus of "Old MacDonald" while he jumps on his bed. Unfortunately, the only animal on the farm that he has mastered is the chicken. He keeps repeating "a cluck, cluck here" and "a cluck, cluck there" like he has some sort of weird, poultry-based version of Tourette's Syndrome. As much as I cringe, I secretly find it amusing. Random clucking is pretty cute (but not as cute as taking a nap would be). Needless to say, I am weary. Parenting has been kicking my butt lately. What is it about 2 1/2 year old boys that make you just want to hide with the covers over your head???? Don't get me wrong...I would not have it any other way....but I am just plain ol' worn out. So, easy dinners have been slotted for the rest of the week. I think a labor-intensive recipe would just send me over the edge right now.

I am going to pair my easy sandwiches with a baked (microwaved) potato and call it good. I have a loaf of bread leftover from Sunday night's soup dinner that should grill up nicely. Also, I am using jarred roasted red peppers since that is what I have on hand. I love goat cheese, so I am interested to see how these turn out.

Grilled Red Pepper Relish and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

sliced bread
1 package of soft goat cheese (4 oz.)
softened light cream cheese(2 oz.)
2 roasted red peppers (jarred or fresh)
1/2 of an onion, quartered
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Place roasted red pepper, onion, garlic, some juice from the pepper (or pepper jar) to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to finely chop. Add the vinegar and salt and pepper. Pulse to combine. In a separate small bowl, combine goat cheese and cream cheese until well mixed. On an indoor grill pan, grill the bread until toasted (about 2 minutes per side). Drizzle a little olive oil onto warm bread slices. Spread softened goat cheese mixture onto grilled bread slice. Top with red pepper relish and cover with a second piece of grilled bread. Cut in half and serve immediately.

The Result:
These sandwiches are seriously awesome! They are no-cook masterpieces. Really, I loved them! This sandwich is going to be my other favorite sandwich (aside from PW's Grilled Cheese). Hands down, the best part about this sandwich is the flavor. The pepper relish is a little tangy and sharp due to the acidic onion-pepper spread, but then the goat cheese mixture is the perfect balance of rich creamy, cheesy, goodness. Fan-freakin'-tastic, I tell ya. Then, I love that they are so easy to assemble without any cooking. You literally just have to toast the bread. The grilled bread is not a must...in fact, I just had another one for lunch on regular old toasted sandwich bread, and it was still delicious. Either way, don't skip the drizzle of olive oil on the warm toasty bread. It gives the whole sandwich a bump in flavor and texture. The husband and boy loved this meal, too. It tasted complex and time-consuming, but it could not have been quicker or easier. The leftover bread I had was kinda small when sliced, so we had two sandwiches apiece with a potato. It was completely filling and satisfying. Yum! Also, there is a refreshing quality to this dish. I think this sandwich will be one that you'll see a lot around these parts, especially in the summertime! A total keeper!
One other thing I want to mention...the white stuff you see on the potato (see above photo) is not sour cream, but plain low-fat yogurt instead. It is a really healthy alternative to sour cream, and it tastes very, very similar. By substituting yogurt, I can still have the look, flavor, and texture of sour cream without the guilt. It is one of my favorite healthy tricks to use, and I substitute it in recipes all the time.

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