Meatless Monday: Grilled Cheese Brie & Red Pepper on Ciabatta
Brie cheese goes so well with both sweet and spicy peppers. For a quick snack, I often spread pepper jelly on crusty bread and top with slices of brie. My inspiration for this heavenly grilled cheese sandwich came from a cafe here in Frederick, MD. Zi Panini is similar to Panera, so of course I love it. When I ordered their brie and red bell pepper on ciabatta sandwich, it didn't take long before I was in my own kitchen trying to recreate the dish.
Step 1: Preheat oven to 450 F. Use a grill pan to char the skin on one red bell pepper. If you don't have a grill pan, set it directly on a burner rack with the heat turned on medium. Have some tongs handy to remove the bell pepper and turn it to char on all side. Then slice into wide pieces. If you're using a grill pan, you can slice the pepper before you grill it.
Step 2: Place the red bell pepper slices onto a roasting pan, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then roast for about 30 minutes. You can skip step 1 and go straight to roasting the red bell peppers in the oven, but if you want that nice charred skin, I suggest you use open flame or a grill pan before roasting them in the oven. *Roasted red bell peppers are great for salads, salsas, and side dishes, so go ahead and roast several at a time. Optional: to skin the peppers, place them in a bowl after roasting and cover them with plastic wrap. After a few minutes, the skin will easily peel right off.
Step 3: While the peppers are roasting, take your ciabatta bread (available in most grocery-store bakeries) and using a pastry brush, coat the inside and outside with olive oil or melted butter. I used olive oil. Bring a skillet to medium-high heat. Here's my trick to an extra-crispy and tasty sandwich - before assembling the sandwich, place the bread middle side down to get the inside toasted. If you can't find ciabatta, use French or Italian bread.
Step 4: Now fill the sandwich with 2-3 slices each of the roasted red bell pepper and brie. Press it down with a spatula or panini press and pan fry or grill until the bread is golden brown on both sides and the brie is slightly melted (a few minutes per side). Enjoy!
Last week on Meatless Monday: Ginger-Roasted Carrots with Onions