On a whim, I made calzones for my family a few weekends ago. Although somewhat time intensive, they were delicious; and, I rediscovered my love of ricotta cheese! So smooth, mild and creamy. Surely there must be more approachable ways to use this delicious ingredient, I thought to myself. Because, it’s not that often I have time to make stuffed shells, lasagna or calzones these days. So, I decided to combine two wonderful things and make calzone grilled cheese!
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This Calzone Grilled Cheese recipe is pretty simple. The filling is just a mix of shredded mozzarella and ricotta cheese, plus a pinch of salt and pepper. I added pepperoni in mine, which is my favorite calzone filling. But, you can use any filling that’s your favorite! Some filling ideas – sauteed mushrooms, onions, or bell peppers, crumbled cooked sausage, or cooked spinach. If you are going to use vegetables, I suggest that you blot them with paper towels before adding to you sandwich so they don’t make it watery. (With spinach especially, which is really wet, try to squeeze out as much moisture as you can before adding.)
Which Bread to Use?
For the bread, I used crusty, thick-cut sourdough. You don’t need to use sourdough, that’s just my personal favorite! But, I recommend thick-cut bread that has some bite to it, rather than really soft bread. This will help hold in the filling and give structure to the sandwich.
Look at that Parmesan Crust!
To make a calzone grilled cheese, I knew I needed Parmesan in there somewhere. But, I was worried it wouldn’t melt all the way inside the sandwich. So, I stuck some shredded Parmesan onto the buttered bread and grilled it up! It gives the bread a nice, nutty and extra crispy quality that pairs so well with the soft, melty insides of the sandwich.
Cooking the Grilled Cheese:
In order to cook the grilled cheese all the way through so the mozzarella has time to melt, without burning the Parmesan crust on the outside, you need to go low and slow. In fact, the first couple times I made this I definitely burnt the outsides to a crisp. So, turn the burner alllllll the way down to the lowest setting.
I also used this Cast Iron Grill Press to compress the sandwich while it cooked. This helps cook the filling all the way through (especially with thicker bread!) and to get a nice crust on the outside of the sandwich.
If you don’t have something like this press laying around, you can use a heavy skillet that is smaller than the pan you are cooking the sandwich in. Or, just press down on the sandwich with your spatula from time to time while it’s cooking. If you do use something to weigh down the sandwich, just don’t forget to add the butter and Parmesan to the top piece of bread right before you are ready to flip. Otherwise, the cheese and butter will stick to whatever you are using as a weight.Print
Grilled cheese with all the flavors of your favorite calzone – creamy ricotta, melty mozzarella, and a Parmesan cheese crust on the outside of the bread!
- 2 slices thick-cut, crusty bread
- 1 – 2 tbsp. softened butter
- 1/3 c. ricotta cheese
- 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
- large pinch salt and pepper
- 6 slices pepperoni (see note)
- 2 tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
- tomato sauce for dipping
- Mix together ricotta, mozzarella, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Spread half of the cheese filling on one slice of bread. Top cheese mixture with pepperoni or filling of choice (see note). Spread the remaining cheese mixture evenly over the filling. Top with the second slice of bread.
- Heat skillet on low heat for a minute while you finish prepping the sandwich. Spread softened butter on top slice of bread and sprinkle with half the Parmesan cheese. Press the Parmesan into the butter.
- Flip the sandwich, Parmesan side down onto the preheated skillet. Use a grill press or other weight to press down the sandwich while cooking (or use your spatula to compress). Cook on low for 5 – 7 minutes until the bottom of the sandwich is golden brown.
- Spread butter on the top slice of bread and sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan. Press the Parmesan into the butter. Flip the sandwich, replace the weight, and cook for an additional 4 – 5 minutes until golden brown.
- Cut sandwich in half and serve with tomato sauce on the side.
Other topping ideas in addition to or instead of pepperoni: grilled peppers, onions, or mushrooms; cooked crumbled sausage, ham, cooked spinach. Blot excess moisture from any vegetable before adding to avoid making the sandwich soggy.
Keywords: grilled cheese, Parmesan, mozzarella, ricotta, pepperoni, calzone