Mini Fig, Goat Cheese and Kale Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Mini Fig, Goat Cheese and Kale Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
photography by Rebecca Firth

One of my most favorite brands of goat cheese:  Silver Goat Chèvre
photography Amy Albertson

My friend, Becky, and I had a great time cooking at Demetria Estate Winery a few weeks ago when we did this photo shoot for California Homes Magazine.  The figs at the farmer's market looked amazing, and, knowing they are one of John Zahoudanis' favorite things, so we decided to incorporate them into the menu.  You can click here for the entire fall menu from that beautiful food and wine day.

These are the second best grilled cheese sandwiches next to Rob's.  I use the same technique as he does for his prize-winning grilled cheese sandwiches: butter the bread with a high-fat butter (such as Kerrygold or Plugra) before putting it in the pan. 

The figs are thinly sliced, and the lacinato kale is sautéed before it is added to the sandwiches.  I use my favorite Silver Goat Chèvre.  Locally, I buy Amy Dixon's baguettes from her store, The Baker's Table.   Be sure to buy the best baguettes you can find.  You substitute sliced red grapes when figs are out of season.  Sautéed Pears or apples will work too, but definitely use figs when you can find them.

(each baguette makes about 20 mini sandwiches)

1 baguette, sliced into 3/8" slices, about 40 slices (don't use the end slices)
1 pint of fresh figs, thinly sliced (use a very sharp pairing knife)
1 bunch Lacinato Kale, rib removed and cut into 2-inch square pieces
Olive Oil for Kale
Dash of Kosher salt for Kale, a tiny amount (A dash is an 1/8 of a teaspoon)
1 log of Goat Cheese
1 stick of Kerrygold or Plugra butter, softened

Cook the kale pieces first.  Heat a large cast-iron skillet or sauté pan on high heat.  Add the olive oil, followed by the kale and a quick pinch of salt.  (See note below on not over-salting the kale.)  Cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to slightly brown.  Remove to a plate.

Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and turn the heat down to medium once you begin making the sandwiches.  

Butter the outer sides (not the insides) of the bread.  On the inside of the bread, spread the goat cheese and add two thin slices of fig and one piece of the cooked kale.  Put more goat cheese on the top piece of bread so the sandwich stays together.

Place in the pan or griddle and cook until one side begins to brown.  Flip over gently. (I use a Peltex fish spatula but you can use whatever spatula works for you.)  Cook on the other side until browned and crispy.  Serve immediately.

Maili's Notes:  Many people over-salt Kale.  I know this sounds crazy from me who usually walks around tasting everything when I cater and telling all the cooks to add more salt to almost everything.  But kale hardly needs any salt.  It needs some, but not a lot.  So literally just sprinkle on a dash and that is it.


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