A dinner for when you don’t want to cook dinner. (Is this you tonight? Me too.) Start with your favorite lettuce—or, you know, whatever is in the fridge right now. I love escarole for its bitterish flavor and ruffly, sturdy texture. Kale, baby arugula, radicchio, spinach, butter, or iceberg all work, too. You could even do a mix. Whatever you pick, toss with a mustardy dressing. I always have Dijon in my fridge because it needs little more than a splash of olive oil (for richness) and water (for loosening) to turn into a bomb salad dressing. In this case, it’s the perfect partner-in-crime for grilled cheese croutons. Yes—these are as melty, gooey, and life-affirming as they sound. Find the best bread you can (I like a crusty sourdough or grainy whole-wheat or seeded something-something) and cut it thick. Keep the crusts—they’re big on flavor. If you don’t like or have Muenster, cheddar, provolone, or Monterey-Jack all work, too. Drizzle the outside with olive oil (this is less likely to burn than butter) and season generously with salt and pepper (this creates an A+ crust). After crisping in a skillet, let cool for a couple minutes (this gives the cheese a chance to gather itself), and chop into bite-size hunks. Sprinkle these on top of the salad and, ta-da, dinner is ready. (If you want to bulk things up, you could certainly add some leftover chicken, or a hard-boiled egg, or canned beans, but most nights I don't find this necessary.) Eat immediately, of course, but also on the couch, in front of the fireplace or TV or fireplace on your TV. It’s been a long day. —Emma Laperruque
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 6 minutes
- Serves 2
thick slices your favorite bread
thick slices Muenster cheese
extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the grilled cheese
head (about 1 pound) escarole, chopped
- Set a nonstick or cast-iron skillet on the stove over medium heat. While the pan heats up, make two sandwiches with the bread and cheese. Brush the outside of the sandwiches with a small amount of olive oil, then generously sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
- When the pan is hot, add the cheese sandwiches. Adjust the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid, and cook for about 3 minutes, pressing down every so often, until the bottoms are golden-brown. Flip, cover again, and cook for another 3 minutes or so, until golden-brown all over and the cheese is melty.
- While the grilled cheeses are cooking, make the dressing: Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil, Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons cold water, and a couple pinches each of salt and pepper to a mixing bowl. Stir with a fork until smooth.
- When they're done, transfer the grilled cheese sandwiches to a cutting board to cool while you make the salad: Add the escarole to the bowl with the dressing and toss. Taste and adjust as needed. Divide the salad between two bowls or plates.
- Chop the grilled cheese into bite-sized pieces, then sprinkle these on top of the salad. Eat ASAP.