Meatless Monday: Avocado and alfalfa sprouts grilled cheese

April is Grilled Cheese Month. Liven up an ordinary grilled cheese with spicy sprouts and a creamy avocado spread.

By , Grilled Shane

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    Havarti cheese melted on multigrain bread with an avocado spread and alfalfa sprouts is as close to a perfect grilled cheese sandwich as you are going to get.
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Inspiration for my grilled cheese creations can come from the strangest places. This sandwich is no exception. At Jimmy John’s, a sub place I am known to frequent, they have a vegetarian sub that I love. (#6 for those that have been to Jimmy John’s. I order it on multigrain.) As their menu reads:

"Layers of provolone cheese separated by real avocado spread, alfalfa sprouts, sliced cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. (Truly a gourmet sub not for vegetarians only……….peace dude!)"

To me, a vegetarian sandwich can be boring and lacking. However, I consider this particular sandwich to be unique in a world of bland and repetitive vegetarian sandwiches. The avocado spread, in my opinion, is fantastic. Plus, the alfalfa sprouts are a nice touch. I had this sandwich recently, leading me to think of ways to turn this cold sandwich into a hot grilled cheese sandwich.

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As the menu states, Jimmy John’s uses provolone cheese on their vegetarian sandwich. I wanted to put my own spin on the sandwich, so although I stuck with a white cheese, I went with creamy Havarti, a mild, buttery cheese:

"Havarti was first developed by a 19th century Danish dairy pioneer named Hanne Nielsen. The cheese was named after Hanne Nielsen’s dairy farm: Havarti. Today it is one of the most popular cheeses for snacking and entertaining. Danish Havarti has been popular in the USA for many years. Denmarks Finest® is the original, imported Danish Havarti. It is your guarantee of exceptional quality, consistency and authencicity." (Arla.com)

While creating this particular grilled cheese, I wanted to pay homage to Jimmy John’s sandwich, but at the same time, I wanted to add my own touch. The most evident place to do so was with the avocado spread.

One day I found a cippolini onion in the grocery store, bought it and used it in my cooking. I never really knew much about it, but I knew that I seemed to enjoy it. Therefore, when I was trying to think of ingredients to add to my avocado spread, I once again stumbled on the cippolini onion:

"Cippolini onion has various uses in many recipes and it is eaten fresh, fried, steamed, baked or boiled, for numerous salads, toppings, sauces and dips. Due to its Italian origin, the cippolini onion is used for the Italian specialties, such as pizzas, spaghettis and various pastas with meat and greens. Cippolinis are small bittersweet bulbs that come from the grape hyacinth that look and taste like small, white onions. Fresh cippolinis are difficult to find in the U.S. They are available preserved in jars and are also known as wild onions." (Recipes.Wikia.com)

Other ingredients included: garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper. I (and the sous chef) simply smashed up the avocado and mixed in the chopped-up ingredients. We did not use a blender or any such contraption. That is it. I have no idea what Jimmy John’s puts in their avocado spread, but I must say, the ingredients I included, made one awesome spread. I made this right before cooking the sandwich, only refrigerating it for a few minutes, but I imagine making it a day ahead would only enhance the flavors. Jimmy John’s also includes mayonnaise in the sandwich, but I decided to leave the mayonnaise out of the spread and the sandwich.

Some people love alfalfa sprouts, others hate them. I, for one, am intrigued by them. Their hairy, weird texture can be a bit off-putting but I think it adds a unique texture to a sandwich. This is one ingredient I knew had to be in my version of this sandwich. Lettuce and tomato is included in the sandwich description, but honestly, I don’t ever remember them being included in the actual sandwich. I thought my interpretation had enough components with the avocado spread, alfalfa sprouts, and sliced cucumbers, that I left the lettuce and tomato off. I did not miss them.

Jimmy John’s sandwich normally comes on white but I prefer it on multigrain. It makes the sandwich a thousand times better (and a lot more edible). The choices at my local grocery store were nine-grain and multigrain. The nine-grain has larger grains and is sweeter. I chose the multigrain because I believed a less sweet bread would not overpower the sandwich.

Avocado & Alfalfa Sprouts Grilled Cheese

Ingredients: 

Homemade Avocado Spread (avocado, cippolini onions, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper)

Cucumber

Alfalfa Sprouts

Creamy Havarti

Multigrain bread

My grade: A

The Jimmy John’s vegetarian sandwich is itself a great, cold sandwich. When ordered on multigrain, it is, in my opinion, delicious. It is not, however, a grilled cheese sandwich. With a few tweaks and subtractions, I have turned this great cold sandwich into a true grilled cheese. The avocado spread itself had the perfect bite. With the addition of the cucumbers and alfalfa sprouts, the varied ingredients created a fantastic texture. Include the multigrain bread and you have yourself a very yummy treat. If you are someone who happens to enjoy both avocados and alfalfa sprouts, this sandwich is right up your alley. I would highly recommend both the Jimmy John’s cold sandwich and my Jimmy John’s inspired Avocado & Alfalfa Sprouts Grilled Cheese.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of food bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by The Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own and they are responsible for the content of their blogs and their recipes. All readers are free to make ingredient substitutions to satisfy their dietary preferences, including not using wine (or substituting cooking wine) when a recipe calls for it. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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