While most schools have done away with home economics completely, I credit a lot of my love for food to the Culinary Arts classes I took at King’s High School. I enrolled in 2 semesters of culinary arts with my favorite teacher, Mrs. Yakovich, each of which culminated with a dinner party for close to 100 people. We learned how to clean, how to use knives, how to meal plan and grocery shop, and how to execute simple and complicated dishes. Our classes were small – 8 people each – but one girl from my class went on to get her culinary degree, and the rest of us have become foodies. I still use a lot of the recipes from that class in my daily life, too.
I say this because I want you to know that cooking isn’t something I just randomly happen to love, without guidance or help. Rather, my culinary skills have taken years to develop and I still mess up recipes all the time. It was only after 10+ years of cooking that I started to understand how to look in the fridge and combine random ingredients into something tasty.
Today’s recipe for Slow Roasted Veggie Cheese Melts is an example of how far I’ve come since the early days of watching my mom cook. It’s a simple dinner, but it combines a lot of the skills I’ve developed over time (like bread making and roasting veggies) and I thought ahead enough to prep the veggies the night before.
Slow Roasted Veggie Cheese Melts
Makes 4 sandwiches
- French bread (if you’re feeling ambitious, make your own)
- 1 zucchini
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 red onion
- 1 cup arugula
- fresh mozzarella cheese
- balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper for drizzling
Set your oven to 375 degrees. Cut the zucchini in 1/2-inch wide slices, lengthwise. Cut the onion into wide, 1/2-inch rings, leaving them in tact on the pan. Cut the pepper into 4 large, flat chunks. Put them on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Roast the veggies for 20 minutes at 375, then turn the oven up to 400 and continue roasting for 15 more minutes. (If you’re doing this ahead, stop here and put the veggies in the fridge once they’re done. They’ll keep for about 2 days for easy and healthy lunches and dinners.)
Leave the oven on. Meanwhile, cut bread into two 1-inch wide slices per sandwich and drizzle the insides of each slice with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Leaving the sandwich open-face, layer one side with veggies (1 slice of zucchini, one chunk of pepper, 2 onion rings) and add one slice of mozzarella cheese to the top. Cover the other slice of bread with a second slice of mozzarella cheese and slide the sandwich onto a smaller sheet pan to roast in the oven. Let the sandwich bake at 400 for 8 minutes, then turn the oven to broil. Once the cheese is melty and almost bubbling, remove it from the oven. Top the cheese with a handful of arugula, then top it with the second slice and enjoy!
*For a side of sweet potato chips, roast thinly sliced sweet potato rounds (drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper) at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
*For a more meaty version, swap the zucchini with roast chicken!