Each and every one of us have some brilliantly unique and different attributes to bring to this glorious table of life. Without these various traits that differ from person to person, we’d all be the same and would never progress since we’d always be processing things in identical ways, and not agitating one another into movement. Our differences are what keep the motion of life moving in a forward direction, even if on some days, it seems an awful lot like we’re going backwards. But it’s all perfect just as it is; each of us have been created in exactly the way we should’ve been, and have been given the perfect tools to be active participants in this physical adventure called “life”. It’s just a matter of each of us finding out the correct way to use those tools we’ve been given, and to play the role that we were meant to play on an individual level, in the way that it was intended to be played. We’re all kind of like those delicious ingredients that make up a mouthwatering and fully satisfying gourmet grilled cheese sandwich, all put together to make for one scrumptious and wonderfully melted-together bite.
In a “Grilled Cheese Italiano”, each and every ingredient is necessary, and makes up the totality of this divinely taste-bud-tickling sandwich, just like each one of us is necessary and makes up the totality of this life experience. Among us, there are those precious souls that have a softness and a gentleness, and provide some of the much needed nurture in life that melts us all into one another, like the creamy cheese that envelopes all of the other ingredients in a gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Others have a slight spiciness — a fire in the belly, so to speak — and bring that blazing passion and zest into the mix that moves the rest of us into action, like those tangy peperoncinis layered in, and the spicy marinara for dipping. Then there are those that have a vibrant boldness, a colorful way of looking at life and finding the playfulness and the joyful quirkiness, which inspires the rest of us to find the sense of humor in things and to not take ourselves too seriously, just like the gorgeously green and flavorful basil; and of course, we also have the deep thinkers, those that get straight to the “meat” of the matter in life, and provide stimulation of the substantive kind and cause us to question things, like the crispy salami in the center. But then, there are those that contain a little bit of all-of-the-above attributes, and are the ones that seem to hold our humanity together, and are the whisperers that remind us of how important it is for each of us, individually, to play our part in this realm of physical life; they’re like the perfectly toasted and flavor-infused slices of bread that hold together all the rest of the ingredients. What a wonderful thing to be part of this irresistible Grilled Cheese Italiano sandwich that is life, indeed.
Though sometimes we question whether certain ingredients are truly necessary in order to keep the integrity and spirit of a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich intact, at the end of the day, they are if fullness and well-developed flavor is what is being sought. And just like all of those unique ingredients make up the end result of a Grilled Cheese Italiano when melted spectacularly together, so do we each make up this entire colorful picture that is this experience that is “life”, blending and melting together into that one perfectly delicious bite.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Grilled Cheese Italiano Sandwich with Crispy Salami, Melted Provolone, Fresh Basil and Pepperoncini with Spicy Marinara Dipping Sauce
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(Makes 4 sandwiches)
8 slices of rustic-style bread, lightly buttered on one side
16 slices of provolone cheese
16 large, fresh basil leaves
24 slices of Italian-style dry salami, crisped (*see note below)
¼ cup sliced peperoncinis
• Spicy Marinara Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
(*Working in a couple of batches, crisp the salami in a non-stick pan set over medium-high heat for several moments on each side; once crisped, place on a paper towel-lined plate to hold.)
-Place four slices of the rustic-style bread in front of you with the non-buttered side up; add 2 slices of the provolone to each piece of bread, followed by 4 fresh basil leaves per piece of bread, and 6 pieces of the crispy salami per piece of bread; next, top with about 1tablespoon of sliced peperoncinis (or more, depending on your liking), followed by another 2 slices of provolone cheese per slice of bread; cover each with the remaining slices of bread, buttered-side up.
-To prepare the sandwiches, place a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and allow it become hot; working in batches, place a sandwich (or two) into the pan with the buttered-side down, and gently press with a spatula, and allow it to toast on that side for a few minutes, until golden-brown and toasted; flip the sandwich(es) over, press with the spatula, and allow the sandwiches to toast on that side for another few minutes, or until golden-brown on that side, and the cheese is melty and gooey (you can cover the pan while they toast on that second side to help melt the cheese, if needed).
-To serve, cut the sandwiches in half on the bias, and serve with a ramekin of the warm, Spicy Marinara Dipping Sauce on the side.
Spicy Marinara Dipping Sauce ingredients:
• Olive oil
¼ onion, finely diced
• Pinch salt
• Pinch freshly cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or your desired amount)
¼ teaspoon dry oregano
3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
1 (15 oz) can organic tomato sauce
-Place a small sauce pan over medium/ medium-high heat, and add in about 2-3 tablespoons of the olive oil; once hot, add in the diced onion, and saute for about 2 minutes or just until translucent and a very pale golden; next, add in the pinch of salt and pepper, the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, dry oregano and the garlic, and stir to combine, sauteing in the oil for a couple of moments to release the aromas; next, add in the tomato sauce, stir to combine, and allow the mixture to gently simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes; transfer to a bowl or to small ramekins and serve while warm.