Sunday, August 12, 2012

Spinach Grilled Cheeses with Bacon

Cheesiliciousness. Ok, so, is it just me? How many of you hate that you have to buy the biggest bag of baby spinach ever in order to get any at all? I swear, stores should allow you to buy baby spinach by the handful. There is one store that I shop at from time to time that does allow you to buy baby spinach by the scoop from a salad bar, but that store is pretty far from my house. If I go to a reasonably located store, I have to get a big ol' bag of the stuff.

I use baby spinach in several recipes because, as I have admitted before, I am a picky eater. Baby spinach has relatively little flavor when in a pasta sauce, quiche, or cheese spread. Anytime I can add a handful to a recipe I do. I do not use it enough to use the whole big bagful before it starts to spoil, though...until now. These sandwiches are my solution.

These sandwiches are SOOO good and so easy, and my family adores them. We will be eating them all the time - if for no other reason than to use the rest of the baby spinach in a bag I've bought. These are also awesome for picky eaters because you cannot taste the spinach at all. You can even process the filling in the food processor so much that you cannot see the flecks of spinach in it (I didn't. Ya'll know my food patience issues). You could claim food coloring entered the cheese spread. I know it sounds weird, but kids love green eggs and ham for Dr. Seuss. Why not green cheese spread?  

Before I share the recipe with you, look at the following picture for fun. This recipe is a modified version of Giada De Laurentiis's Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Pancetta. I rarely print out recipes I'm going to try. I just scrawl out the recipe on a scrap sheet of paper right quick (hence the chicken scratch on the paper below). After I try the recipe, if I like it, I make a recipe card for it for my recipe box. If not, I just throw the paper away. (For more of my recipe organization tips, read How I Organize My Recipe Box.)

Speaking of the recipe cards I make when I like recipes, here is my recipe card for this one:

Step One: Cook some bacon until crispy.

BTW: If you are not a crispy bacon person, I just do not understand you. You can cook your bacon however you like, though. It's your sandwich.

Note, if your cheese did not come pre-grated, I suggest grating it. I, however, do not have a real food processor, so if you know your food processor can handle ungrated cheese, ignore this advice. Just consider it words to anchor the pretty picture of cheddar and monterey jack to your left.

Step Two: After the bacon has cooked, let it drain on paper towels. Pour off any grease in the pan, and then set it aside.

Step Three: Put the butter and salt in your food processor.

Yes, I realize this is not a real food processor. It wants to be one when it grows up, though.

Step Four: Put a little bit of the cheese in the processor, too. Then add the canola oil. Process until smooth. Keep adding cheese until all is processed and smooth.

Smooth cheese, butter, and salt yumminess.

Here's another picture of the buttery, cheesy spread for good measure.

Step Five: Add the spinach leaves. If you use a real food processor, you can add them all at once. If you use a handy chopper, like me, you'll have to add them a little at a time like this.

Once smooth, I suggest dumping all of the spinach-cheese spread out onto a plate and evenly spreading it.

Then, score the spread into four equal sections so that you will put the same amount on each sandwich.

If you are not quite this OCD, it's ok.

This is the bread I used. I highly recommend it. It is awesome. I sing its praises. Why did I picture it next to canola oil? No idea.

Step Six: Spread 1/4 of the spinach-cheese mixture on a slice of bread, and then crumble one strip of bacon all over the top. Repeat with three more slices of bread, the spinach-cheese mixture, and the remaining three strips of bacon.

Step Seven: Top each of those spinach-cheese and bacon slices of bread with another slice of bread.

I just want to point out that my pan has all kinds of brown bits of goodness on the bottom because I used this pan to cook the bacon earlier. I poured out the bacon grease, but I did not wipe it out. I would not want these sandwiches to miss out on any of that deliciousness!

See the stacks of sandwiches ready to be toasted?

Step Eight: Heat the pan that was used to cook bacon to medium heat. Spray both sides of each sandwich with cooking spray. Toast sandwiches about two minutes on each side.

Here's a picture of the second side of these two sandwiches cooking in the happy, happy pan.

The main difference between Miss De Laurentiis's version and mine is that she uses a panini maker, and I use a more or less traditional grilled cheese making method.

If I had a panini maker, I might use it, but probably not. I like the idea of none of the bacon grease going to waste this way.
Yum! Swoon. Melt. Devour.

Caution: These do not last long at all.

Comment: I feel that it is important for you to cut the sandwiches diagonally just like I did because they look so pretty. You won't look at them long, though.


Spinach Grilled Cheeses with Bacon
4 slices bacon
4 T. butter
, softened
1 c. monterey jack, shredded
1 c. mild cheddar, shredded
8 slices country bread
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 T. canola oil
1 c. packed, chopped baby spinach

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels, and set aside. Pour off excess grease from the pan, and set aside.

In a food processor, blend butter, cheeses, salt, and canola oil until smooth. Add spinach, and pulse until blended well.

Spread 1/4 spinach-cheese mixture on a slice of bread. Crumble one strip of bacon on top, and top with another slice of bread. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Spray both sides of each sandwich with cooking spray. Heat the pan that was used to cook bacon to medium heat. Toast the sandwiches about two minutes on each side.
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