One of my favorite coworkers and food-minded friends gave me an incredible gift this Christmas season and I was absolutely over the moon when I received it: a bottle of white truffle oil. Countless times I have watched Mario Batali finish a dish with a few shavings of these highly esteemed funghi and send whatever plate of goodness he has created completely over the top. However, with truffles ringing in at well over $1,000/pound and being a chef with a moderate budget, I had little intention (or hope) of ever working with them myself…. until now. As soon as I unscrewed the cap, my nose was on sensory overload with the pungency of the aroma. I inhaled and instantly knew I was dealing with some serious sophisticated mushroom flavor. Furthermore, I realized that just a little drop would go a very long way. If I couldn’t work with truffles themselves, this had to be the next best thing.
Yesterday, the northeast was hit with quite the blizzard and I couldn’t help but think this called for some good old fashioned comfort food with a twist. Truffle oil grilled cheese anyone? After getting tangled in the world wide web of food and recipes, I noticed that Fontina cheese and mushrooms were quite the popular combination for this sandwich. So, I decided to stick with what works, but also add some fresh grated Parmesan, since I happened to have a wedge in the fridge. And to make this meal complete and balance out the richness of the cheese, I added a peppery arugula salad simply dressed in a lemon and extra virgin olive oil vinaigrette.
Creamy melted Fontina and Parmesan cheese + crunchy whole grain bread + woody mushroom flesh + white truffle essence = snowy day indulgent perfection.
We have a winner here, people!
White Truffle Grilled Cheese
6 ounces baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 ounces oyster mushrooms, chopped into bite size pieces
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup fresh coarsely shredded Fontina cheese
1/3 cup fresh coarsely shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 slices crusty whole grain bread
1 Tbsp. white truffle oil
Preheat panini press. Melt butter in skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a medium bowl and let cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Drain any accumulated juices from the bowl and discard. Use your hands to toss mushrooms with parsley, Fontina, and Parmesan cheese. Mixture should bind together and form a paste-like consistency. Brush one side of each slice of bread with truffle oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Top dry side of two of the slices of bread with the mushroom and cheese paste. Place dry side of remaining bread down upon this mixture. Press sandwiches on panini grill approximately 5 minutes or until golden brown and all the cheese has melted. Serve immediately.
A couple notes:
- Any mushrooms would work well. I grabbed what looked fresh. Use your favorite!
- If you don’t have a panini press, a good old fashioned fry pan will do just fine!
Simple Arugula Salad
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 large handfuls of arugula
Combine all ingredients except arugula in a small bowl. Whisk until emulsified. Place arugula in a medium bowl and toss with desired amount of dressing.
Note: This dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.