How can a sandwich need a recipe? How can a sandwich have a memory attached to it? Well, my favorite sandwich has both. When I first came upon this sandwich in a tiny restaurant in Montclair, New Jersey 26 years ago, it was very exotic, as far as sandwiches went at the time. The usual “sandwich faire” was tuna fish salad on rye or perhaps turkey and swiss on whole wheat bread. Oh yes, the classic “Reuben” was in vogue, but way too fattening. There were no fancy panini then. So when a friend and I sat down to this healthy and delicious sandwich, we were on a mission to duplicate it at home. How hard could it be? We knew the ingredients were muenster cheese, avocado and alfalfa sprouts. But could these three simple ingredients add up to all this flavor? It took several attempts to perfect it, and we soon realized that the secret is in the bread and the cooking process. You need exceptional, grainy, dense bread. You also need to butter the bread before cooking, in the same manner of an old fashioned grilled cheese sandwich. This is what gives it the perfect “crunch.” We were ecstatic once we “broke the code” for our favorite sandwich. Now we could enjoy this sandwich frequently (I ate it almost every day for several months) in our own homes. We would call each other daily, at lunchtime (if we weren’t already together) and would talk and crunch and moan over the deliciousness of our sandwich. However, there was one problem. This sandwich, in it’s pure form, was probably as fattening as the Reuben. We started to notice our waistlines expanding, and realized that we had to remove it from our daily lunchtime routine. I still enjoy indulging in this lunchtime treat from time to time. I can’t resist it. I have figured out some ways in which to lighten it up, and they really don’t detract from it’s authentic taste.
I will give you the original recipe, along with my tips for making the lighter version. But on first try, please indulge fully. You won’t regret it. It’s only one sandwich after all……and it is very healthy for you.
And just as an aside…this sandwich is still on the menu at that restaurant in Montclair. It has been on their menu for 30 years!! Obviously it is a favorite. I hope it will be a favorite of yours. This is not your mother’s grilled cheese sandwich!
2 slices multi-grain bread (I love Ezekial Organic Sprouted Whole Grain bread and it is only 80 calories a slice. You can find it in frozen food section)
2 slices Muenster cheese (to lighten up, just use one or even 1 1/2)
1/2 avocado, sliced thinly ( to lighten up, I mash the avocado and use only 1/4)
soft butter spread ( to lighten up, I use Olivio spray or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter for 0 calories)
1. Spray a heavy skillet or grill pan with non-stick oil spray and heat pan.
2. Butter the under side of one slice of bread. Place the cheese and avocado on top and place in the heated pan, over medium heat.
3. Cover the cheese and avocado with the sprouts. Mound the sprouts on high.
4. Butter one side of the other piece of bread and then place it (buttered side up) on top of the sprouts.
5. As the sandwich cooks, press it down occasionally with a spatula. It will sizzle. Once the the underside is golden brown and crispy and the cheese starts to melt, gently flip over. Cook until golden and crispy peeking occasionally underneath.
I have been dreaming of this recipe since leaving Va. Commonwealth University in early 90s and losing access to my favorite restaurant, a vegetarian restaurant called Grace Place on Grave Ave in Richmond, Va. They served a version of this and I have missed it ever since. That place has long ago closed so i am unablre to find the exact recipe nor any mention of Grace Place’s existence.