August 9, 2017 10:43:30 AM
One time many years ago, I was riffling through my grandmother Ruth's box of handwritten recipe cards when I pulled up short at the sight of the title of this recipe for Cheese Sandwich Souffle. Souffle? Fancy! But reading the details, I quickly understood that this item was nothing more or less than the wedding of a ham-and-cheese sandwich and some French toast.
But that didn't make it a souffle. It required no separating of eggs, nor any beating of egg whites. Once I actually made the recipe, however, the title didn't seem like such a stretch. Fresh out of the oven, these sandwiches have puffed up in a very souffle-ish way. Similarly, they boast the moistness and airiness of a souffle.
But what I especially loved about the recipe was how ridiculously easy it is to prepare, making it the ideal candidate for a weeknight meal. (Huh? A sandwich for supper? Yes. Eggs for supper? Indeed.) Preparing this dish is so simple, you ought to consider inviting your kids to help. But whether or not the kids lend a hand, this sandwich will be even more attractive once the schoolyear -- and the hectic dinnertime grind -- kicks in. Just know that you'll have to plan ahead a bit; the sandwiches need to soak in the egg/milk mixture for a full hour before you pop them into the oven.
This recipe can be customized in all sorts of ways. You can swap out the ham for smoked turkey, prosciutto or your meat of choice. You can lose the Gruyere in favor of provolone, cheddar, mozzarella, or your favorite cheese. Vegetarians in the family? Say goodbye to the meat and hello to a hearty vegetable like grilled eggplant or sauteed Portobello mushrooms. Want to make a slimmer version? Use low-fat cheese and non-fat milk. However you roll, all you'll need to flesh out the meal is a side salad or vegetable. These sandwiches are plenty hearty.
CHEESE SANDWICH SOUFFLE
Start to finish: 2 hours (15 minutes active)
Butter for buttering the baking pan
8 slices homemade-style white or whole-wheat bread, crusts removed
1/4 pound thinly sliced cheese (Gruyere, cheddar, provolone, mozzarella, et cetera)
2 ounces thinly sliced boiled ham, prosciutto or smoked turkey
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 cups whole milk
Nutritional information: 454 calories; 205 calories from fat; 23 g fat (11 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 223 mg cholesterol; 1,113 mg sodium; 36 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 26 g protein.