Food & Drink

Tuscan-style grilled cheese sandwich

Tuscan-style grilled cheese sandwich

18 spears (1 pound) grilled (see NOTE 1) or steamed

(see NOTE 2) asparagus

1/2 cup balsamic-garlic-olive oil vinaigrette

12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices crusty bread

12 (1/2-ounce) slices low-fat fontina cheese

12 (1/2-ounce) slices fresh mozzarella cheese

36 fresh basil leaves

1 cup roasted red pepper pieces (6 ounces)

12 (1/2-ounce) slices low-fat provolone cheese

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Makes 6 servings.

Toss asparagus with vinaigrette and marinate at least 20 minutes before using; drain and set aside.

Lay 6 slices of bread, buttered side down on a piece of wax paper. In this order, top each slice with 2 slices fontina, 3 drained marinated asparagus spears, 2 slices fresh mozzarella, 6 fresh basil leaves, about 2 1/2 tablespoons red peppers and 2 slices provolone. Top with second slice of bread. Brush both sides of sandwich with butter.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook sandwiches 4 to 5 minutes per side weighting down the sandwiches with a dinner plate whose diameter is smaller than that of the skillet so it sits down into the skillet. Top it with a weight such as a standard 28-ounce can. Cook the sandwiches until golden on both sides.

This may have to be done in batches. If you need to keep them warm while cooking the rest, transfer them to a baking sheet and place in a 350-degree oven until ready to serve.

Nutritional information per serving: 508 calories, 45 percent calories from fat, 25 grams total fat, 13 grams saturated fat, 59 milligrams cholesterol, 41 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams total fiber, 6 grams total sugars, 39 grams net carbs, 29 grams protein, 1,202 milligrams sodium.

Note 1: To grill asparagus: Preheat a charcoal grill or gas grill to medium-high heat. Spray asparagus spears with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Grill 5 to 6 minutes, uncovered, turning often, until edges are golden brown and stalks are tender.

Note 2: To steam asparagus: Trim 2 inches off ends of asparagus and place in microwave-safe dish with 1/2 inch water. Cover lightly with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe cover. Microwave on high 7 minutes until tender. Or bring 2 inches water to boil in a large saucepan holding a steamer basket. Place trimmed asparagus on basket and bring water to a rolling boil. Cover pan and steam 8 to 10 minutes.

If you have questions about a vegetarian ingredient or recipes you would like Steve Petusevsky to make meatless for you, send them to Vegetarian Today, Sun-Sentinel, 200 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301-2293. Or send an e-mail to