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CARLA HALL Grilled Cheese & Tomato Casserole

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Just when you thought grilled cheese couldn’t get any better, this tasty casserole will be a quick favorite.

1 crusty sourdough peasant loaf (1/2″ slices)
1 pound sliced, sharp, yellow cheddar cheese
1 cup fresh basil leaves (plus more to garnish)
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
1 medium onion (grated)
3 garlic cloves (grated)
4 .5 ounces tomato paste
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 eggs
1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese (grated)
1/4 cup sharp, yellow cheddar cheese (grated)
extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325ºF.
Lightly grease a 9″x9″ baking dish with cooking spray.
Butter both sides of each piece of bread and season with salt and pepper. Place bread on a baking sheet and cook until golden, flipping once, about 8 minutes.
Build sandwiches using two slices of bread, 3 slices of cheese and 2-3 basil leave. Place the basil leaves between the slices of cheese. Cut the sandwiches into 4 pieces each.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and sauté until lightly caramelized about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, paprika, thyme, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant and paste is rust-like in color. Reduce heat to low and whisk in milk and cream. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat. Ladle a small amount of the warm sauce into a medium bowl. Add the eggs and immediately whisk to temper and combine. Add the egg mixture to the sauce and whisk to combine.
Shingle the sandwiches into the prepared baking dish and pour the egg mixture over. Sprinkle on the grated cheese.
Place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes until golden brown on top.
Remove casserole from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm with a a garnish of torn basil.

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