How to make it

  • 1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Mash mixture with potato masher until only small chunks of tomato remain. Stir in 1 tablespoon basil and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.
  • 2. Arrange pepperoni in single layer on paper towel-lined plate. Cover with paper towels and microwave until fat has rendered, about 30 seconds.
  • 3. Layer provolone on 4 slices bread, then top with pepperoni, remaining basil, and mozzarella. Top with remaining bread. Heat grill pan or large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Place 2 sandwiches in pan and weight with Dutch oven. Cook sandwiches until golden brown and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining sandwiches. Serve with tomato sauce.
  • Note:
  • This take on the classic combination of grilled cheese and tomato soup gets an Italian-inspired twist with rustic bread, spicy pepperoni, and lots of fresh basil. Here’s what we discovered:
  • Test Kitchen Discoveries
  • For the tomato sauce, a small can of diced tomatoes tastes better and requires less effort than fresh tomatoes, and their juices have a bright flavor.
  • To prevent the pepperoni from leaching grease in the sandwich, briefly microwave it sandwiched between sheets of paper towel. This quick step removes much of the grease without toughening the meat.
  • Weigh the sandwiches down with a Dutch oven—mimicking a panini press—for the crispest crust.
  • To get the signature ridged grill marks of a panini press, use a nonstick grill pan; if you don’t have a grill pan, use a preheated nonstick pan instead: You’ll miss out on the grill marks, but the sandwiches will still be as crisp as any made in a press.
  • For the best results, buy a rustic 8-inch loaf, often called a boule, with a crusty exterior and a substantial, slightly chewy crumb. Cut the bread into thick slices yourself.

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