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8 & $20 Recipes: Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches with a Sauvignon Blanc

A classic pairing updates a comfort food for summer

Jennifer Fiedler
Posted: July 24, 2012

Eight ingredients. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a weeknight feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.

This week’s recipe is a grilled cheese sandwich dressed for warm weather with a light and tangy goat cheese filling. A thin layer of ribbons of fresh zucchini in the sandwich anchors the dish in the summer season, while minced green olives add savory complexity. To round out the meal, a simple salad of ripe tomatoes and basil takes the place of grilled cheese’s standard companion, tomato soup.

Sauvignon Blanc is an über-classic pairing with goat cheese, and it’s one of the few wines that can usually stand up to raw tomatoes. However, on paper, I had thought that the green olives might tip the scales toward a rosé. In practice, though, a bright and juicy Provencal rosé didn’t do very well, taking on a sort of sweet, candied fruit profile with the food.

A Greek white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon had good acidity, but also turned a touch sweet alongside the sandwich. In the end, an unoaked Sauvignon Blanc from the Collio region in northeastern Italy showed best of the wines in our tasting. The tanginess in the goat cheese tempered the wine’s citrus notes somewhat, letting the stony qualities shine—and tallying another notch for a classic combo.

Note on shopping: For the bread, I used pizza bianca, a flatbread that’s airy, light and seasoned with olive oil and salt (think pizza without the toppings) from Sullivan St. Bakery, but any sort of ciabatta, flatbread or foccacia will do.

Grilled Goat Cheese, Green Olive and Zucchini Sandwiches with Fresh Tomato Salad


Pair with a citrusy and stony Sauvignon Blanc, such as Petrussa Sauvignon Colli Orientali del Friuli 2010 (87 points, $20)


Total time: 20 minutes

Approximate food cost: $22

For the sandwiches:

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 sandwich-size pieces of flatbread (or foccacia rolls)
  • 10 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced green olives

For the salad:

  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

For the sandwiches:

1. Using a vegetable peeler or a mandolin, slice long ribbons of zucchini lengthwise and reserve.

2. Using a bread knife, split each flatbread into two slices. Butter both sides of each flatbread slice. Spread the goat cheese in a thin layer on the interior portion of each slice. On the bottom side, spread one-quarter of the minced olives evenly and a thin layer of zucchini. Cover with the top. Repeat for four sandwiches.

3. Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the sandwiches as space allows and cook until the butter has browned on the bottom (around 2 to 3 minutes) and then flip carefully with a spatula. Cook until the butter has browned on the second side and the interior ingredients have heated through. Remove and serve immediately.Serves 4.

For the salad:

1. Dice the tomatoes and place them in a large bowl. Dress with the sliced basil and two tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt to taste.Serves 4.

Pamela Heiligenthal
Portland, OR —  July 24, 2012 8:01pm ET
What a great pairing! And the grilled cheese looks awesome.
Jennifer Fiedler
New York, NY —  July 25, 2012 10:14am ET
Thanks Pamela! Let us know how it turns out if you make it!

Jennifer Fiedler
Wine Spectator
Joy Herzog
Hareysville, Oa —  August 4, 2012 5:56am ET
Not only looked awesome, tasted awesome too! Didn't have sauvignon blanc, but paired nicely with Sierra foothill steel vat aged chardonnay.
Jennifer Fiedler
New York, NY —  August 6, 2012 9:46am ET
Thanks Joy! Glad you liked it.

Jennifer Fiedler
Wine Spectator

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