Here at Stylist, grilled sandwiches are one of our go-to lunchtime snacks. They’re quick to make, hard to mess up, and totally delicious – and they can be jazzed up in all manner of ways.
In her book Melts, food writer, stylist and chef Fern Green brings together more than 50 grilled and toasted sandwich recipes. Some are refined versions of familiar concepts – the ultimate tuna melt, for example – while others are extravagant or downright unexpected, from a sweet toastie with fig, whipped cheese and honeyed walnuts to a version using Parmesan-loaded carbonara pasta. A handful of recipes eschew cheese and bread entirely, such as the Bombay masala grilled chapati and the egg, bacon and guacamole waffles.
The book is divided into five sections, ‘The Classics’, ‘The Adventurer’, ‘Cheesetastic’, ‘Hungry’ and ‘Sweetness’ – so whatever you’re in the mood for, you’re sure to be able to find something that takes your fancy.
Here, Green shares five of her favourite recipes from Melts. Don’t worry if you don’t own a toasted sandwich maker or panini press – if you’ve got a standard frying pan and a grill, you’re good to go.
‘Cheesetastic’: Vintage Cheddar, bloody Mary butter, bacon & rocket
This early morning hangover melt is the perfect cure.
- 4 slices of bacon
- 4 slices brown sourdough bread
- 120 g (4 ¼ oz) vintage Cheddar, sliced
- Handful of rocket
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the bloody Mary butter:
- 4 tbsp butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 4 drops of Tabasco sauce
Cook the bacon using your preferred method, until nice and crispy. Set aside.
To make the Bloody Mary butter, mix two tablespoons of the butter in a bowl with the tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. Pop the Bloody Mary butter in the fridge and chill for ten minutes.
Meanwhile, spread the remaining butter on one side of each slice of bread and lay them butter side down.
Spread the Bloody Mary butter on the unbuttered sides of the bread, then lay the cheese on two of the slices. Season, top with the bacon and rocket, and close the sandwiches with the remaining bread so that the Bloody Mary butter is on the inside and the plain buttered sides are facing out.
Heat a large heavy-based frying pan on a medium heat and transfer the sandwiches into the pan.
Cook for three minutes then flip them over and cook for a further two to three minutes or until the cheese has melted and the bread is crispy and golden.
Alternatively, cook the sandwiches in a toasted sandwich maker or in a panini press if you have one.
‘Adventurer’: Spinach, avocado & dukkah
A delicious, fresh-tasting melt with an element of green. The dukkah adds that extra crunch.
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 slices multiseed bread
- ½ avocado, sliced
- ½ tsp dukkah
- 30 g (1 oz) Parmesan, sliced
- 5 basil leaves
- Small handful baby spinach leaves
- 1 tbsp butter, at room temperature
Spread the mayonnaise on one slice of the bread and top with the avocado. Sprinkle over the dukkah and lay the Parmesan and basil leaves on top.
Top with the spinach and close the sandwich with the other slice of bread. Spread both sides of the sandwich with the butter.
Heat a pan over a medium heat and lay the sandwich in the pan. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes or until the outside is crispy and the Parmesan has melted. Alternatively, cook the sandwich in a toasted sandwich maker or panini press.
Slice in half and serve.
‘Classic’: Tuna melt
Great for kids and quick and easy to make. This classic melt contains ingredients that you can probably find in your store cupboard or fridge right now.
- 160 g (5 oz) tinned tuna in spring water, drained
- 1 spring onion (scallion), finely sliced
- 1 celery stalk, finely sliced
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Squeeze of lemon
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
- 4 medium slices multiseed or brown bread
- 60 g (2 ¼ oz) grated mature Cheddar
Mix together the tuna, spring onion, celery, mustard, mayonnaise, oil and lemon juice in a bowl and season.
Butter one side of each slice of bread and turn them over so the butter-side is facing down.
Spread half of the tuna mixture on one slice of the bread and the rest on another slice. Divide the grated cheese over the tuna mixture, then place the remaining slices of bread on top with the butter on the outside.
Heat up a frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat and lay each sandwich in the pan. Fry for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden and the cheese has melted.
Alternatively, cook the sandwiches in a toasted sandwich maker or panini press.
‘Hungry’: Bombay masala or spiced potato
Partial to a bit of spice? This sandwich hits the spot with aromatic curry leaves and flavour-popping mustard seeds. Top it off with mango chutney and you have the full package.
- 1 large potato
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 2 curry leaves, crumbled (optional)
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 green chilli, finely chopped
- 2 cm (3/4 in) piece ginger, finely chopped
- 4 small chapatis or flour tortillas (or 2 large chapatis or flour tortillas, halved)
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp mango chutney, plus extra to serve
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Sour cream or yoghurt, to serve (optional)
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook the potato with its skin on for 20-30 minutes until tender; don’t let it get too soft. Drain, allow to cool slightly, then peel off the skin while it’s still warm. Leave to cool completely, then grate into a bowl.
Mix the mustard seeds, curry leaves (if using), red onion, turmeric, chilli and ginger into the grated potato.
Brush one side of each chapati or tortilla with some of the oil.
Put a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and lay a flatbread, oil side down, in the pan. Spread half of the mango chutney over it, then add half of the potato mixture and season with salt. Top with another flatbread and press down with a spatula.
Cook for three minutes, then turn the sandwich over and cook for a further two to three minutes or until crispy on the outside and the potato is warmed through.
Transfer the toastie to a warmed plate and cover it with kitchen foil to keep it hot while you make the other sandwich. Assemble and cook it the same way using the remaining ingredients.
Slice into pieces and serve with sour cream or yoghurt and more mango chutney, if desired.
‘Sweetness’: Cinnamon-crusted peach and mascarpone
Juicy and creamy with a sweet crunch of brioche. A delicious quick summer dessert.
- 3 peaches, halved and pitted
- 1 ½ tbsp. maple syrup or clear honey
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 125 g (4 ½ oz) mascarpone
- ½ tsp icing sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 slices brioche
Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Put the peaches on the tray, drizzle them with the maple syrup or honey and top each with a sprig of thyme. Roast for 20 minutes or until the peaches are soft and cooked through, then set aside.
Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the mascarpone with the icing sugar and vanilla, and mix well. In another small bowl, mix together the butter with the cinnamon.
Heat the grill to a medium heat. Lay the brioche slices on a baking tray and grill them for one to three minutes until lightly golden. Keep an eye on them as brioche cooks quickly.
Remove the tray, turn the brioche over and spread the untoasted sides with the cinnamon butter.
Return the tray to the grill and toast for another one to three minutes until the butter has melted and the brioche slices are golden.
Remove from the grill, turn the slices over and spread the mascarpone mixture on the other side. Lay the roasted peach halves on top and serve.
Melts by Fern Green is published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP £12.99, buy it here. Photography by Jacqui Melville.