A Touch Of Tomato Sauce Makes For A More Savory Grilled Cheese

Equally comfortable as a last-minute life saver or simple-yet-elevated midday repast, the grilled cheese is always a cinch to make yet scalable in sophistication. A slice of American cheese, white bread, and margarine? No problem. Crisp homemade sourdough, nutty Emmentaler, and grass-fed butter? You got it. Regardless of where your culinary tastes exist on the grilled cheese spectrum, there is one ingredient that will add a new dimension of flavor to your sandwich: a touch of tomato sauce. 

Tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich is a hallowed, magical combination of minimalist simplicity. This is because the acidity of the tomatoes adds a high and slightly sweet sharpness to the sandwich's fatty, umami buttery cheesiness — a taste further defined by the little touch of salt in the butter and cheese. But if you don't have time to make soup with your sandwich or you need to make use of leftover sauce, brushing the insides of your bread slices with a smear of it will impart a similar effect of the savory combo.

A spectrum of flavorful expression

There's virtually no limit to the possible combinations that can adorn your next sandwich, beginning with plain tomato sauce and American cheese. Leftover marinara can pair beautifully with a slice of soft mozzarella as the sauce's basil and oregano add an herbal brightness. 

The smokiness of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes will fit right in with gouda's nutty sweetness. And while there's pretty much no cheese that a voluptuous ala vodka sauce won't complement, cheddar and provolone are great options to create bold layers of flavor. If you have a pasta sauce that's a little sweet because of sautéed onions and butter, consider adding it to a creamy grilled goat cheese sandwich.

Pairing tomato sauce with a grilled cheese sandwich offers what is perhaps the greatest culinary opportunity: the chance to experiment wildly on a dish you can never really ruin. If you like pasta at all, there's almost certainly an open jar of sauce in your fridge; and if you prefer the homemade kind, here's yet another reason to crank out a fresh batch.