Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Mozzarella, Red Peppers, and Arugula

Dinner for TwoQuick and EasyVegetarianGrilled Cheese SandwichMozzarella

Ready to try a new kind of grilled cheese? This Grilled Cheese with Mozzarella, Roasted Red Peppers, and Arugula is sweet, peppery, and too tempting to pass up!

Photography Credit: Alison Bickel

If you’ve never had this riff on a traditional grilled cheese, you’re in for a treat! Sweet and creamy with a snappy bite from the arugula, it’s a wonderfully light grilled cheese in which to indulge this fall.

WHY MOZZARELLA, ARUGULA, AND ROASTED RED PEPPERS?

Back when I was writing my cookbook, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, I had a lot of extra cheese in my house. Like, a lot of extra cheese – usually no less than 10 pounds, all scraps.

For my husband, who possesses the enviable metabolism of a high school student despite being well into his forties, this was a boon. His favorite food growing up and still to this day is a grilled cheese sandwich, and I had provided him with an inexhaustible supply of ingredients.

To him the variety is inconsequential. If it’s got bread and melted cheese, well, it’s his favorite. Brie and jam? Done. Manchego and ham? He’s on it. Taleggio and leftover bratwurst? Stinky but satisfying. He even bought a panini press so he could better, more efficiently feed his habit.

But one particular rendition stands out to us all these years later: mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and arugula. A little bit sweet, a little bit peppery, it hits all the right notes for fall.

Recipe for Mozzarella Grilled Cheese with red peppers and arugula

ROASTED RED PEPPERS: BUY A JAR OR MAKE THEM!

Preserved, roasted red peppers can generally be purchased quite affordably at any grocery store. They’re packed in water or oil, and either type will do. Just be sure to pat off the excess liquid before making your grilled cheese. Trader Joe’s has a lovely version packed in water, while Mezzetta makes one packed in oil that can be found in many stores or purchased online.

If you’re an avid gardener with a glut of peppers coming in, or have a great source at the farmers’ market, you can also easily make your own!

Whatever peppers you use, make sure to salt and pepper them once they’re on the sandwich. All foods, including sandwiches, need seasoning. Flaky salt is best, but kosher salt also works. Avoid iodized salt; its metallic tang mars flavor.

WHAT KIND OF MOZZARELLA TO USE?

There are essentially two kinds of mozzarella: fresh or low-moisture. Fresh mozzarella is sold in balls packed in salty brine. Low-moisture mozzarella is sold in bricks or pre-shredded and can be found alongside the cheddar, Jack, and Colby cheeses in the dairy section of a store.

For this sandwich, you’ll want to use low-moisture (also known as part-skim) mozzarella. It has a saltier flavor and greater meltability.

If you only have fresh mozzarella, that will also work. It won’t melt and become as delightful stringy as a low-moisture mozzarella, but it will still taste absolutely fantastic!

Really want to take it over the top? If you can get fresh burrata, then, by all means, give that a go. Its creamy taste and texture make it well suited to oozing apart over high heat and soaking itself deep into the bread.

Grilled Cheese, Roasted Red Peppers, and arugula sandwiches on a white plate

EASY SUBSTITUTIONS 

Grilled cheese sandwiches are all about improvisation. Don’t have red peppers? Use tomato! Consider this more a set of guidelines than anything else.

For the bread, I love the tang of sourdough and it grills so well. But if you don’t have that, or you’d like to use a panini press, then focaccia is also great.

The only ingredients I wouldn’t skimp on are the arugula, mustard, and seasoning. Arugula delivers a powerfully peppery bite, and the pungency of the Dijon mustard helps cut through the sugars naturally found in the peppers and cheese.

MORE GREAT GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES:

Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • Butter, soft and at room temperature
  • Dijon mustard, to taste
  • Mayonnaise, to taste
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 18 ounces jarred roasted peppers (oil- or water-packed), patted dry of excess moisture
  • 12 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch slices (or shredded, if that’s how you roll)
  • 2 cups arugula

Method

1 Prepare the sandwiches: Butter one side of each slice of bread. On the unbuttered sides, spread Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Place two slices of bread (or as many as you can fit), buttered side down, in a skillet over medium-low heat.

Add about 4 ounces of the peppers, 3 ounces of mozzarella, and a good handful of arugula. Press down to keep slightly together, then place slices of bread on top, buttered side out.

Layer the mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and arugula before making a Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 Grill that cheese: Let the sandwiches cook over medium-low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, flipping halfway through, making sure they don’t get too browned. After about 6 to 8 minutes total, the cheese in the sandwich should be well melted and the bread toasted. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

Grill the sandwich in the pan to make a Mozzarella Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Roasted Peppers

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Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

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5 Comments / Reviews

No ImageGrilled Cheese Sandwich with Mozzarella, Red Peppers, and Arugula

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Jim

    Made this today with center cut fresh baked sourdough and buffalo mozz. It was worth writing on a forum about. The flavors come together so well. Be sure to use quality ingredients .. this is not a sandwich where you want to skimp

  2. Karen

    I don’t typically care for arugula, mayo, or mustard, so the first time I made this, I skipped the mayo and mustard and went very light on the arugula, and it was a good, albeit slightly bland, sandwich. Made it again the following day. Added a light smear of mayo and mustard on both slices of bread and piled the arugula high. Oh my, perfection!

    I used the recommended fire roasted peppers from Trader Joe’s and while there, I decided to go with their presliced “fresh” mozzarella log and San Fransisco Sour dough, too. Delicious! And visually stunning! I’ll definitely be making this regularly. Thanks!

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Jarrett

    Sounds yummy, and I already have a spare red pepper.

  4. Dick Plumley

    It sounds like water cress could work too.

Recipe for Mozzarella Grilled Cheese with red peppers and arugulaGrilled Cheese Sandwich with Mozzarella, Red Peppers, and Arugula