There’s a scene in the movie Chef where the star, Jon Favreau, makes a grilled cheese sandwich. It was the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Perfectly toasted on both sides. And it crunched, oh how it crunched, when he sliced it. I have to admit, I’m still working on my grilled cheese toasting skills, but I sure do enjoy a great grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. These white pizza grilled cheese sandwiches have a great pizza-ish herby flavor to them, with ooey-gooey melted mozzarella and a little Parmesan to boot. Very good, and a little different.
I prefer to use Texas toast for my grilled sandwiches. It holds up and holds up well to just about anything you want to pile up on it. No one likes a grilled cheese that just dissolves once you get past the crust. Nope, you need a bread that will be there till the end, and for me that’s Texas toast. Oh, and I love to make smoked paprika and garlic croutons out of any leftover pieces of Texas toast I might have.
The Griddler is a champ at making grilled cheese sandwiches, like my muffuletta grilled cheese, grilled caramel apply cheese, grilled spinach and artichoke cheese, and pepperoni pizza grilled cheese.
White Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Servings 6 sandwiches
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried basil crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 12 slices bread I used Texas Toast
- 2 tablespoons softened butter
Turn on your Griddler to the griddle setting and 350 F, or heat a large skillet over medium heat.
Mix the ricotta and oil together in a large bowl.
Stir in the garlic, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.
Mix in the mozzarella cheese. The mixture will be thick. Don't be afraid to use your hands to mix it well.
Lightly butter each slice of bread on one side.
Working in batches, place slices of bread butter-side down on the Griddler or into the skillet. Top with the cheese mixture, spreading out evenly.
Add the top piece of bread butter-side up.
Cook until the bottom bread is golden brown. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown.
Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
I love my Cuisinart Griddler. It’s the perfect kitchen appliance. I use it to make paninis, hashbrowns, waffles, burgers, eggs… just about anything. My favorite use for it has to be making sandwiches, like this toasted Italian sandwich. The bread gets nice and toasted on the outside, giving me that perfect crunchy bite. The mozzarella cheese gets nice and melted. Top that off with great Italian cold cuts, homemade sun-dried tomatoes and pesto, and I’ve got the perfect lunch.
My favorite bread for sandwiches is hands-down, ciabatta. It has those great airy pockets in it (it reminds me a bit of English muffins, my other favorite bread). It gets fantastically crunchy while still being soft in the middle, like the perfect pizza crust. I like to serve my sandwiches with my quick-fix Italian salad (made without adding meat).
The Griddler is the master of making sandwiches. Also try my sweet-and-savory turkey panini.
Toasted Italian Sandwich
Servings 1 sandwich
- 1 ciabatta roll sliced horizontally
- 1 tablespoon pesto sauce
- 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes chopped
- 2 slices Mozzarella cheese
- 3 slices Prosciutto
- 1 slice salami
- 1 slice sandwich pepperoni
- 1 slice Capicolo
- 1 slice Sopressata
Heat a large skillet, cast iron skillet or Griddler.
Place the ciabatta into the skillet cut-side down and toast for a few minutes until the bread starts to get crunchy and brown.
Spread the top of the roll with pest and sun-dried tomatoes.
Add the cheese and meats to the bottom slice. Return to the skillet to melt the cheese.
Add the top bun, slice and serve.
This baked Italian sub pizza packs on everything I love about a classic Italian sub (er… hoagie). Sandwich meats. Black olives and banana peppers (yum). Cheese. Lots of cheese. And just a bit of Italian dressing and basil. Quick to make and quick to disappear, these pizzas make for a great fast lunch or dinner.
To spice this baked Italian sub pizza up, use hot banana peppers, spicy salami and maybe toss a few jalapeno slices on there to boot. Oh, and a good bit of dried red pepper flake ain’t gonna hurt either.
Also try my French bread pizza rustica.
Baked Italian Sub Pizza
Servings 2 servings
- 1 12 " loaf French bread
- 4 tablespoons Italian salad dressing
- 8 thin slices of tomato
- 4 thin slices of hard salami chopped
- 4 ounces of thin sliced deli ham chopped
- 1/4 cup sliced black olives
- 1/4 cup sliced mild banana peppers
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese divided
- Dried basil crumbled
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Cut the bread in half lengthwise and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Brush the insides of each half of bread with the Italian dressing.
Divide the tomato, salami, ham, olives and peppers between the two bread halves.
Sprinkle with crumbled basil and place in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy.
Cut into slices and serve.
Anita and I recently returned from the Pittsburgh, PA area. Anita was there for a conference, and I was there for food. Right down the street from our hotel was Pizza Bella. They made the most amazingly good hoagie that as soon as we returned home I had to make hoagies. And here it is in all of its glory. Great meats, cheese, and fresh toppings, all with a fantastic dressing.
I hope I never have to decide between which is my favorite: hoagies or muffulettas. They are both fantastic sandwiches, both with a lot of Italian influence in the ingredients. One thing is for sure, though. The next time we are in the Pittsburgh area we’ll swing by Pizza Bella and grab more hoagies.
Also try my other version of hoagie dressing and my Italian grinders.
Servings 4 servings
For the hoagie
- 4 12 " Hoagie rolls
- 1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
- 1/2 pound thinly sliced capicola
- 1/2 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
- 1/2 pound Provolone cheese
- Hoagie dressing from below
- 4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- 2 to matoes sliced thin
- 1 medium white onion sliced thin (soak in cold water first if desired)
- Hot or sweet peppers
For the hoagie dressing (makes enough for 4 or more hoagies)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the hoagie
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Slice bread rolls horizontally. Do not cut all the way through.
Brush insides of bread with dressing. Add meats and cheese.
Wrap in foil and place in oven for 12 minutes or until hot and the bread is a little crunchy.
Remove from foil. Add remaining ingredients, plus a little more of the dressing.
I made some fantastic flashback old school BBQ chicken on my Char-Broil Big Easy the other day. It put me in the mood for more BBQ chicken, so I up and made this fantastic Italian Ranch BBQ chicken. It’s like my old school BBQ chicken kicked up big time. You still get that great BBQ sauce flavor, but as a bonus, you get ultra-tender juicy chicken that has marinated in Italian and Ranch dressings. My goodness, it was good!
The original recipe for Italian Ranch BBQ chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy called for marinating the chicken in the BBQ sauce and the dressings. I was using a BBQ sauce made with molasses. I knew that if it spent a long time over high heat it would start to burn. So, I marinated the chicken overnight in the dressings and then placed it into the Big Easy until almost done. That’s when I brushed the chicken with the BBQ sauce. And it was good.
Also try my southwest chicken on the Big Easy.
Love your Big Easy as much I love mine? Check out my Big Easy Add-Ons page
and my free Big Easy eCookbook
Italian Ranch BBQ Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy
You'll need a Big Easy Bunk Bed basket
to be able to double this recipe.
Servings 4 servings
- 4 large split chicken breasts skin removed
- 3/4 cup Italian dressing
- 3/4 cup Ranch dressing
- 3/4 cup BBQ sauce divided
Place the chicken into resealable container or baggie.
Whisk together the Italian dressing, Ranch dressing, and 1/2 cup of the BBQ sauce.
Add the marinade to the container. Seal and shake gently to coat. Let marinate overnight.
Fire up your Char-Broil Big Easy.
Shake off any excess marinade and add the chicken to the Big Easy basket.
Cook until chicken is done or just shy of done, 10-15 minutes per pound.
Brush remaining BBQ sauce onto chicken and if desired, return to the Big Easy for 5 minutes to 'set' the sauce.
Anita reminded me of this recipe the other day. It was a favorite of ours years ago, when we started our first blog, Crossroads Of America. I was just starting to learn how to cook. This recipe for slow cooker creamy Italian chicken was simple enough for me to not mess up, but still great tasting and looking. Over the years I’ve changed it up a bit, but that same great creamy texture and Italian flavor is still there.
The original recipe calls for using a packet of Italian salad dressing mix, which is perfectly fine. Since first making this dish I have come up with my own mix that I think has a bit more flavor. Making your own also lets you adjust the flavors to your tastes, such as adding more garlic salt or onion powder, or just more basil (I love basil).
Also try my slow cooker Buffalo chicken sliders.
Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken
Note: If you use thicken chicken breasts you may need more cooking time. Slice them thin or butterfly them for a quicker cooking time.
Servings 4 servings
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts butterflied if desired. Or substitute 1 1/2 pounds fresh chicken tenders
- 1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix I used 2 tablespoons of our homemade mix
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms sliced thin
- 8 ounces cream cheese cubed, softened
- 1 10 3/4 ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
- Hot cooked pasta or rice
Place chicken into slow cooker set to low.
Combine the dressing mix and water and pour over the chicken.
Cover and cook for 3 hours.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the mushrooms and sautee until just starting to soften. Remove and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl combine the cream cheese and canned soup. Whisk until smooth.
Fold in the mushrooms and pour mixture over chicken.
Cover and cook another hour or until chicken is done.
I have been making a lot of pizzas on the grill this year. After a long time of testing, trying, and testing some more, I’m very happy with our homemade dough and homemade sauce. And now I can say I’m also happy with our homemade Italian sausage. It’s very easy to make but still packs a nice spicy flavor. It’s perfect for pizzas, calzones, or hoagies.
Nothing beats a pizza hot off a charcoal- or wood-fired grill, specially if it’s loaded with homemade Italian sausage. I use a Kettle Pizza adapter on my 22″ Weber charcoal grill any time I want to recreate that awesome classic pizza flavor.
Also try my homemade beef summer sausage.
Homemade Italian Sausage
Servings 3 pounds
- 3 pounds ground pork
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 tablespoons dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons or more dried red pepper flake
- 3/4 teaspoon ground fennel seed
- 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
Place the pork in a large bowl.
Add all of the remaining ingredients.
Mix well. I found using my hands to be the best way. Just make sure you get all of the spices distributed evenly throughout the pork.
Let pork refrigerate for 12 hours before using to distribute the flavors. I froze it in 1 pound packages for use later on pizzas.
My goodness, these Italian grinders were good. They’re so easy to make. The key is the tasty homemade marinara sauce. And fresh mozzarella. And crunchy bread. Ok, it’s all good. The same approach works great substituting meatballs for the ground meats, but we really liked them the way they were. After browning the meats I pulsed them a few times in a food processor to get a great fine texture. Not overly processed. Don’t go crazy on it.
These Italian grinders reminded me a bit of the Sloppy Joes I remember from my childhood, only done Italian style, and well, quite a bit tastier. I wouldn’t be afraid to add a few pepperoncinis to them either. Or some giardiniera.
Also check out my Italian hoagies.
Servings 4 servings
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground sweet Italian sausage
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce I used our slow cooker version
- 4 Italian or submarine rolls sliced 3/4th of the way through horizontally
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella sliced thin
Brown beef and sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain. Season with salt and pepper as desired. (I like to pulse the meats in a food processor a few times to get a nice consistent texture with no clumps)
Meanwhile, warm the marinara sauce in a small saucepan.
Spoon about 1 cup of meat into each roll.
Top meat with about 1/3 cup of marinara sauce.
Top sandwiches with a few slices of cheese.
Transfer sandwiches to sheet pans and place under the broiler until cheese is melted and rolls start to brown.
This is our go-to Italian meatball recipe. We usually double the ingredients and make a big batch (24 2-ounce meatballs), freezing some for later. They are perfect on sandwiches, over pasta, wrapped in bacon, on pizza, you name it.
These meatballs really need to set up overnight in the fridge to be the right consistency and flavor. We always make 2 ounce balls, but you can make smaller ones if you like. I wouldn’t make them any bigger, though.
The meatballs can be cooked in the oven, on the grill, on a smoker such as the Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker, or in a Char-Broil The Big Easy Oil-less Fryer.
Servings 16 balls
- 1 1/2 pound ground beef see note
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
Note: If you use a high-fat ground beef, such as 80/20, you can use 1 pound of beef and 1 pound pork. The less fat in your beef, the more pork you'll want to use.
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well, using your hands.
Shape into meatballs (we usually make 2-ounce balls) and place on a wax paper-lined pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
Cooking on the Char-Broil Big Easy
Wow, what great hot dogs these New Jersey Italian hot dogs are. Fried potatoes and sausages and onions… well, you already know they’ll be good before even trying them. Italian seasoning adds great savory flavor. And last, a fantastic kick from Creole mustard (my favorite).
I used Ball Park’s new Park’s Finest Signature Seasoned beef franks and found them to have a great complimentary flavor. They have a really nice seasoning, very much like a smoked sausage. I think good bratwurst would also be great for these New Jersey Italian hot dogs. But regular good ole beef hot dogs ain’t so bad either!
Also make my oven-baked hot dogs.
New Jersey Italian Hot Dogs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 large russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2" squares
- 1 medium green bell pepper sliced into strips
- 1 medium sweet onion sliced into strips
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 4 beef hot dogs
- 4 Deli hot dog buns you'll need buns that are larger than the usual hot dog bun
- Creole or whole grain mustard
Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.
Add potatoes. Spread them out evenly and let cook 2-3 minutes. Do not stir, you want them to brown.
Flip the potatoes and again cook 2-3 minutes, undisturbed. Remove.
Add the pepper and onion strips to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and cook, undisturbed, for 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook 2-3 more minutes without stirring.
Add the potatoes back to the skillet along with the Italian seasoning. Stir, reduce heat to medium, cover and let cook 8-10 minutes or until the potatoes are softened.
Meanwhile, grill or cook your hot dogs and toast your buns, if desired.
Slather the buns with the mustard. Add the dogs and top with the potato mixture.