In the winter, I generally gravitate toward comfort foods. In spring, I look forward to the first’s: asparagus, strawberries, radishes. In the summer, I’m usually too busy to think much about food—just a juicy tomato, sprinkled with salt and pepper, will do. In the fall, though, it’s different. In the fall, I crave. In the fall, I stop dead in my tracks and I say to myself: I must, right this minute, right now, not one minute more, grill a sandwich, a grilled cheese sandwich, which, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of all sandwiches.
But it’s fall—the season of specific, urgent cravings—so it doesn’t stop there. Oh, no. Instead, the cheese must be cheddar: white and very sharp, or smoked at the very least. There must be thinly sliced apples, too, sweet and crunchy ones (honeycrisp!). And, of course, autumn is the season for seeded wheat breads, so the vehicle for this sandwich will be two slices of that. Not just a grilled cheese, but a grilled-apple-and-cheese. Because it’s autumn, you know.
But last Sunday, after a jog in the brisk morning chill and before an afternoon of football, this craving was, if you can believe it, even more precise. Not just cheddar. Not just honeycrisps. Not just a seeded boule. No.
There would be sage pesto, too. Or, at least, a sage pesto of sorts: a slap-dash spread, thrown together in the bowl of a food processor—just velvety sprigs of sage, fragrant in a way that whispers fall; hazelnuts, skins and all; a pinch of coarse salt; a splotch of grainy mustard; olive oil, poured in via a steady stream as the whole thing spins beneath the food processor’s blade.
That pesto—nay, spread—gets slathered on slices of the seeded boule. Onto that is stacked a pile of the thickly-sliced sharp cheddar and those thinly-sliced apples. All of that is grilled to melting-ness. It’s fall in a sandwich and it’s exactly what I had in mind, right that minute, last Sunday.
Grilled Apple-and-Cheese Sandwich with Sage Pesto
Yield: 1 sandwich
2 slices multi-grain bread
slathering of sage pesto or sage spread (as described, loosely, in the post above)
1/2 sweet, crunch apple (such as honeycrisp), sliced thinly
handful of thick slices of sharp cheddar
Heat a skillet or grill pan. Slather both pieces of the bread with the sage spread. Pile once slice of the sage-spread bread with the cheese and apples, and cover with the other sage-slathered slice of bread. Grill the sandwiches over medium heat, until the cheese is melted, flipping once, to toast both pieces of bread.