Bakers understand ratios, and San Francisco's Tartine Bakery gets the simple formula behind this grilled cheese just right. I've had this recipe for toasted almond and pecorino sandwiches clipped from Bon Appetit since 2004; Tartine's menu still lists them for $11.
Pricey for a grilled cheese, but this sandwich is easy to make and divinely unexpected to taste. Though not as sugary as storebought nutter butter, the sage-infused almond spread has an earthy sweetness and citrusy zest that gently balances the salty, bold pecorino cheese.
On the second night of these sammies, we pressed the asparagus into the sandwich, rather than serving it on the side, which suited the profile perfectly.
3 cups whole unblanched almonds (about 1 pound), toasted, cooled
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 1/2-inch thick slices country style bread (I used pain pascal from Trader Joe's)
1 10- to 12-ounce wedge pecorino cheese, cut into very thin slices
Additional olive oil
- Coarsely chop nuts in processor. Add next 6 ingredients. Blend until mixture forms a coarse paste. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before using.)
- Divide almond paste among half the bread slices; spread to cover. Top with cheese. Sprinkle with pepper. Cover with remaining bread slices. Brush tops with oil.
- Heat 2 large nonstick skillets over medium-high heat. Add 3 sandwiches, oiled side down, to each skillet. Cook until bread is crusty on bottom, about 6 minutes. Brush tops with oil. Turn sandwiches over. Cook until brown and crusty on the bottom, pressing to compact, about 6 minutes.