A comforting grilled ham and cheese sandwich turns divine with a figgy relish and other quality ingredients. You can interpret this sandwich any way you like, but I am fond of it with thin slices of prosciutto and buttery Toma cheese, a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese from the Aosta region of Italy. Sprinkle with a dusting of Parmesan just before serving. The relish can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator, and makes more than you will need. Reserve any extra to enjoy with cheese and wine in the afternoon. It will keep for several months in the refrigerator.
Recipe and photo from Plum Gorgeous: Recipes and Memories from the Orchard by Romney Steele/Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011. Photo by Sara Remington.
2 artisanal rolls, or 4 slices ciabatta
Toma cheese, sliced or grated
Several thin slices prosciutto
Fig relish (recipe follows)
Olive oil or butter
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
1/2 lb Kadota or Mission figs, stemmed and peeled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Slice the rolls lengthwise and spread a little sweet butter on the bottom halves. Layer each with some cheese, a few slices of prosciutto, and a couple basil leaves along with a tussle of arugula. Spread a generous amount of fig relish on the top half of each roll, then place on top of the layered half. Gently press down to adhere.
Heat a cast-iron pan over medium-low heat and lightly brush with olive oil or a little butter. Add one or two sandwiches at a time and cook until lightly browned on one side. Brush the tops with a little more oil and turn over. Place a pot lid or heavy plate on top and gently press down as they cook. Cook until the cheese is melted and the roll is nicely browned and crusty. To serve, slice each sandwich in half on the diagonal and dust with a small amount of Parmesan cheese.
To make fig relish: Coarsely chop the figs and place in a small pot with the sugar, vinegar, mustard seed, salt, and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer, stirring on occasion, for 20 minutes, until it resembles a loose jam. Stir in the dry mustard to taste, if using. Transfer to a glass bowl or jar. Refrigerate once cool.