Caleb and I spent this past weekend playing in an ultimate tournament at a tiny college in a small town in Illinois with some pretty awesome people and it was a blast. Some of our favorite people in KC invited us to play on their alumni team and they have such a fun, tight-knit group of friends. We loved getting to know and spend time with their crew, if only they’d all move to Kansas City!
I have one bit of big news before we get on to these sandwiches. We’ve probably looked at 50 apartments in the last three weeks and I am so happy to say that we have finally found the perfect apartment. It’s walking distance to Caleb’s work, brand new, has an open kitchen with the biggest sink I’ve ever seen (outside of restaurant kitchens) and has lots of natural light. I could not be more excited!
Okay moving on to these sandwiches. So this masterpiece came about when I was trying to use up leftovers in the fridge and we had a bunch of roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli and spinach and I thought, let’s throw it all between some bread, slap some cheese on there and make the ultimate “healthier” grilled cheese sandwich. And if you’re having grilled cheese, everyone knows you have to eat it with tomato soup. But, Caleb doesn’t like soup… I know, I don’t get it either. So in an effort to compromise, I made a “concentrated” tomato soup, (otherwise known as marinara sauce) and used it for dipping and it was beyond amazing!
Needless to say, we’ve made it many times since and I’m super excited to share it with you guys. I really must stress that the marinara sauce is essential! The sandwich is good on it’s own, but the marinara sauce is what really sets it over the top. You don’t have to make your own (though it will be more delicious if you do) but you could also just warm up a jar of spaghetti sauce if you so desire. My recipe for the marinara sauce is taken straight from the New York Times’ recipe for “Simple Tomato Sauce“. And it is just that, very simple and inexpensive to make and also really delicious. It’s been my go-to for a while now and it’s never failed me.
I really wouldn’t suggest substituting the veggies in the recipes. Unless you just don’t like sweet potatoes or broccoli or something, then you can just leave it out. But otherwise I’d keep it the same.
As far as the bread and cheese, I used whole grain wheat bread and sharp cheddar but you could use whatever bread and cheese you have, though I do think a sharper cheese is better. Or to make it vegan, you can also leave out the cheese and use vegan mayo and it is also delicious! I tried it so I can vouch for it!
The ultimate "healthier" grilled cheese! Packed with veggies and that gooey cheesy goodness you're craving from a grilled cheese with a simple but fantastic homemade marinara sauce for dipping that sets it over the top!
- 1.5 lb sweet potatoes
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 1 T + 1 T + 4 t olive oil, divided
- 1/2 t + 1/2 t salt, divided
- 1/2 t + 1/2 t smoked paprika, divided
- 4 T mayo (or veganaise)
- 8 slices whole grain bread
- 4 slices (4 oz) of sharp cheddar cheese (omit for vegan)
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- For the Marinara Sauce:
- 1 (28 oz) can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 T olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
The marinara sauce recipe is from the New York Times' recipe for Simple Tomato Sauce