Because I add spinach to everything.
No, but really, spinach is a natural with a grilled cheese. Plus, thanks to all of those Popeye cartoons when you were a kid, it makes you feel extra healthy while you chow down on ooey-gooey cheesy goodness. I added a little feta cheese for a tangy punch, a few spicy flakes of red pepper, and toasted it up on a ciabatta roll and and ended up with something truly spectacular. It only takes slightly longer than a regular grilled cheese, and it’s SO worth the extra effort. No joke, you’ll pay about $8 for something like this at your corner cafe, but not at home!
I used store bought ciabatta rolls, but this homemade focaccia would also be awesome and much less expensive (obvi). If you only make a couple of sandwiches, the extra rolls can be frozen and used later. Bread freezes really well and thaws quickly at room temperature. Cheese is super expensive these days, so I buy a large 8 cup bag, divide them into two cup portions, and then freeze them for later. I pretty much always have a bag of frozen spinach in my freezer. I like the kind that is frozen loose in a bag, as opposed to in a block, because I can use any amount I want and return the rest to the freezer. Have I mentioned how much I love my freezer? :)
I had some marinara on hand, which was awesome for dipping. If you want to kick this up a notch, you could even spread some marinara on the bread before building the sandwich. YUM. Oh, there are so many possibilities for add-ins here: olives, artichokes, red onion, parmesan cheese…
But here’s the basic version:
Spinach Feta Grilled Cheese
- ½ Tbsp olive oil $0.08
- 1 clove garlic $0.08
- ¼ lb. frozen cut spinach $0.38
- Pinch of salt & pepper $0.05
- 2 ciabatta rolls $1.33
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese $1.00
- 1 oz. feta cheese $0.43
- pinch red pepper flakes (optional) $0.05
- Mince the garlic and add it to a skillet with the olive oil. Cook over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Add the frozen spinach, turn the heat up to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until heated through and most of the excess moisture has evaporated away. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Cut the rolls in half. Add about ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella and ½ oz. of feta to the bottom half of each roll. Divide the cooked spinach between the two sandwiches, then top with a pinch of red pepper flakes, plus ¼ more shredded mozzarella on each.
- Place the top half of the ciabatta roll on the sandwiches and transfer them to a large non-stick skillet. Fill a large pot with a few inches of water to create weight, then place the pot on top of the sandwiches to press them down like a panini press. Turn the heat on to medium-low and cook until the sandwiches are crispy on the bottom. Carefully flip the sandwiches, place the weighted pot back on top, and cook until crispy on the other side and the cheese is melted. Serve warm.
Step by Step Photos
We start by cooking the spinach a little. Add a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and a minced clove of garlic to a small skillet. Cook the garlic for a minute or two over medium-low heat, or until it begins to soften.
I buy these bags of frozen spinach because it’s really easy to just use some and put the rest back in the freezer for later. I only made two sandwiches, so I used 1/4 of this one pound bag. Just eyeball it. No need to be super accurate.
Until it’s heated through and most of the extra moisture has evaporated away. Season it lightly with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, you can start building the sandwiches. I used these store bought ciabatta rolls. Despite being far more expensive than what I’d normally pay for bread ($3.99 for a pack of 6), the sandwiches were still insanely inexpensive compared to a deli. The extra rolls can be frozen for later.
I buy these big bags of shredded cheese then divide them up and freeze. It’s much less expensive than buying the 2 cup size bags. I buy an 8 oz. block of feta cheese and usually cut it into four pieces to easily measure out 2 oz. This time, I cut one of the squares in half once more, to make a one ounce square, which I then split between the two sandwiches.
Measure out a half cup of the shredded cheese, then divide it between the two sandwiches. Take a one ounce cube of the feta and crumble it over both sandwiches.
Divide the cooked spinach between the two sandwiches and add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Measure out another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and add it to the tops of the sandwiches (I felt that one layer of feta was plenty, so I didn’t add more to the top).
Add both sandwiches to the skillet and turn the heat on to medium-low. I find that medium-low works best for grilled cheeses because it heats them slowly so that the inside has time to warm up and melt the cheese before the outside browns too much.
To “press” the sandwiches like a panini, take a big pot and add a few inches of water for weight. Place the pot directly on top of the sandwiches and press down. The weight from the pot full of water will flatten the sandwiches like a panini press and help the heat transfer through faster. Or, you could just use a George Foreman Grill (sandwiches are one of my favorite things to make on my George Foreman!). Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side or until the outside is crispy and the cheese is melted on the inside.
Cut the sandwiches in two so that all of the goodies come squishing out to greet you…
I couldn’t stop.
I’m always lookin’ for new ways to work on my night cheese.