Roasted Sweet Potato & Fig Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Reduction
Well, I bring you another grilled cheese today! It’s been more than eight months, a delay which would make very little sense to you if, like my frying pan, you could see a tally of my grilled cheese consumption.
Within the stringent bounds of the grilled cheese sandwich (must have: bread, cheese), there’s room for creativity. Some tweaks, like adding veggies, make the sandwich a bit more healthful. Others use up leftovers, like this timely Turkey Reuben. This one finds inspiration in the pages of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, a blockbuster in the Middle Eastern cookbook sector of the shelf. (No, really, it’s gone viral.) I was browsing my copy and found a salad of roasted sweet potatoes, halved figs, balsamic vinegar reduced to a syrup, and feta. The salad sounded good. Which meant it would be better, I thought, as a grilled cheese.
Though I usually roast my vegetables to a nice browned crisp, for this recipe, I left the potatoes a bit softer, which works better in a sandwich. The other elements of this Middle Eastern fusion-y sandwich? Balsamic vinegar, reduced with a bit of sugar into a syrup that’s equal parts sweet and tangy, and fig jam, to replicate the original flavors of the Ottolenghi recipe. Then there’s Swiss cheese, the sandwich’s delicious glue, and good bread that gets buttery and golden in the frying pan.
I always love to combine sweet and savory, but this time of year the combo is everywhere! At our Thanksgiving, we roast our sweet potatoes with brown sugar and butter, and I can just imagine slicing up a leftover potato and making this sandwich for a day-after sweet-meets-savory meal at which I’ll clearly be giving thanks to the Jerusalem cookbook, for yielding so much inspiration.
More sweet potato recipes:
This sponsored post is part of an ongoing collaboration with Sargento, called Flavor Journey. Throughout the year, with the support of Sargento, I’m exploring Middle Eastern cuisine–at home, in Brooklyn, at cooking classes, and wherever the flavors may take me. You can see the whole series here. Sponsored posts let me do some of my best work on this blog, and I only ever work with brands whose values and products mesh with the content I love to produce for you. Here’s my affiliate disclosure.
Roasted Sweet Potato, Fig & Gruyere Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Reduction
Makes 2 sandwiches
1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/3-inch-thick planks (you can peel or not peel it)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
4 slices bread
2 tablespoons fig jam
6 thin slices (2 1/2 ounces) Swiss cheese (I used Sargento’s Ultra Thin Sliced Swiss)
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and roast for 20 minutes, until soft and tender. They won’t get all that brown Set aside and let cool.
Meanwhile, make the balsamic reduction. Put vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Decrease heat and simmer for 2 minutes, until syrupy. Scrape into a little bowl to cool.
Spread the bread with the fig jam. Place a piece of cheese. Top with sweet potato planks. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Place second piece of cheese on top. Layer on the second piece of bread. Repeat for the second sandwich.
Melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Place the sandwich in the pan with a weight on top for best results. I use this Lodge weight, but you could try a second frying pan, or just press down occasionally with your spatula.
Cook for 5-6 minutes, until the bread is golden and the cheese starts to melt. Lift the sandwich up, add another 1/2 tablespoon of butter, flip the sandwich, and cook about 5 minutes on the second side. Repeat with the second sandwich (or do them both in one large frying pan). Cut in half and serve.