After my last post featuring grinders (see it here, if you missed it), I started wondering if I could make a vegetarian version that would be as satisfying as the meat filled originals. I think I came up with something good! My daughter in law, Nichole, was a willing guinea pig at lunch. She even sent a photo of it to her BFF as she enjoyed it. Then she gave me her pronouncement: “Absolutely Delicious!”.
Later that evening my daughter and family came for dinner. It was so easy to prep it all about an hour ahead of time, and get the sweet potato fries in the oven. Then it was ready for a quick assembly and last minute broiling after they walked in the door.
This was a hit for them, too. My son in law, Brian ate his and tried to resist more, but succumbed to eating half of a second sandwich. Daughter Erika said, “My mouth wants more, but my stomach is saying, ‘Whoa!'” They did pack up the extra Asparagus Grinder to take home…
Prep the asparagus by giving it a quick wash, then bend a spear to find the natural point on the stem where it will break easily. Then align the other spears and cut them all at the same spot. If the spears are thick, use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer layer of the stem from the base to about halfway up the spear. This results in a shorter cooking time since the fibrous part has been removed to expose the tender stem. When I have thin asparagus, I don’t peel it. Just snap one off, line them all up and cut them to the same length.
I like to use a packet of Good Seasons dressing mix to make my own version of Italian dressing. This time I used half chive vinegar and half sherry vinegar along with the oil and seasoning. I always reduce the oil somewhat; I think that brings out the seasoning flavors better. Shake it well and pour it over the vegetables. Let these sit at room temperature while prepping the buns and shredding or slicing the cheese. “Duh”, she said, “I think they make cheese that is already sliced, too!” I have to try to remember that.
Since I had both smoked cheddar and smoked gouda on hand, I decided to use both. You could use Swiss or provolone if desired. I like to slice the cheese for grinders, but since I already had some leftover shredded gouda, I used that too. Usually I like to just make quick slices and plop the layers on top.
Meanwhile, drain and grill the asparagus for about 3-5 minutes (depending on thickness). I used my George Foreman grill because I didn’t feel like going outside in the 25 degree weather. You could also broil the spears, or even use frozen and thawed grilled asparagus that is available in grocery stores (just cook as directed on the package). Chop the asparagus into bite sized pieces; set aside.
Cut the sub buns in half, if they aren’t yet cut. Then pull out some of the bread to make a shell for loading up the filling ingredients. Lay them all out on a baking sheet and brush some of the Italian dressing over the buns on both sides. I Just pour some of the dressing from the marinated tomatoes and drained asparagus over each side of the bun, and brush it all around.
Pile the chopped asparagus in the scooped out area of the buns and lay the tomatoes over the other side. Place cheese on top of both sides and broil until the cheese melts. Place both sides together, slice in half and serve.
I really enjoyed the smoky flavor of the cheese with the fresh vegetables, but this grinder did not have the cheesy-ooziness of the original. Next time I think I will try it with provolone or Swiss cheese…I think I can find some willing guinea pigs!
GRILLED ASPARAGUS GRINDERS
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
- 2-3 large Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
- Italian Dressing
- 8-12 ounces cheese (provolone, smoked Gouda, or smoked cheddar)
- 4 sub buns
Trim and peel the asparagus; pour Italian dressing over top and let it marinate for about 1/2 hour. Do the same with the tomatoes.
Meanwhile, use your fingers to scoop some bread out of the buns, creating a half inch shell all around; set aside on a baking sheet.
Drain the asparagus, reserving the marinade.
Grill the asparagus until al dente, about 3-6 minutes, depending on thickness. Remove and let rest on a cutting board until cool enough to chop into bite sized pieces.
Drain the tomatoes and combine it with the reserved marinade from the asparagus. Brush this all over the cut side of the buns.
Chop the asparagus and fill the scooped-out section of the buns with the pieces. Lay tomatoes over the other side of the buns. Place cheese over both sides. Broil until melted and golden.
Place both sides together; slice in half and serve.