Cornmeal Crusted Grilled Cheese with Marinara Sauce

 Is there a song about grilled cheese sandwiches?  There should be!

Cornmeal Crusted Grilled Cheese with Marinara Sauce

I think I’ll write a song about grilled cheese sandwiches tonight.

So last night I was listening to Nelly Furtado’s latest album “Spirit Indestructible” on Spotify. (That’s where I listen to music these days) The album was released last September and I ummm… barely decided to listen to it yesterday.  Seriously, I’m not advertising!  But I just had to share that I really liked the album.    It has some nice catchy tunes, really great lyrics, and a nice mix of genres blended in there.  I really liked the mood of this album.

I used to be  a very big fan of Nelly Furtado when she first came out.  I had a big poster on my wall of her Whoa Nelly Cover art (right next to my giant Ricky Martin poster). I got stickers and poster flats for being a member of her street team and I went out and spread them around town  — CD stores and book stores… etc. promoting her music.

And then my taste in music jumped all over the place.  From alternative rock, indie rock, rock en espanol, and then to Spanish pop.  Hmmm…my taste in music is rather diverse, I guess.  Have I completely exposed my geeky music side to all?  Anyway, so I kind of lost interest or something.  Nelly started to sound more commercial when her album “Loose” came out.  Didn’t she?  Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

But I have to say, as I listened to Spirit Indestructible for the first time,  I’m a fan all over again.  Nelly Furtado, in my humble opinion, is a really truly talented music artist genius.  She just knows her music so  well!  And her lyrics are very deep and meaningful. Her music is so diverse and she expands to such distant horizons.

So then as I finished listening to Spirit Indestructible, I clicked around and back and found her first album and gave that a listen too.  “I’m Like a Bird”  starts playing on my somewhat crackly computer speakers.  It totally took me back to March 2001 and that time I went to see Nelly Furtado at the El Rey in L.A.  It was an intimate show — the El Rey is a fairly small venue.  It’s got the style of an old movie theater with a balcony on top and these beautiful huge chandeliers right in the center. Nelly was super amazing live and delivered a great energetic performance.  And I just seriously loved the location — the El Rey theatre.  It’s perhaps my favorite concert spot ever.  All the friendly fans crammed around me and the smell of incense  — such a wonderful atmosphere.

Well, it’s amazing how one song can just transport us to a place in time we thought we had completely forgotten…


Well, it happens with food too…

I mean sometimes after having gone so long without eating something that one small bite takes you back to that first time you tasted or tried it.

And in this case it’s this grilled cheese sandwich.  Which is not quite the most typical kind of grilled cheese you all may know so well.  But I hadn’t made or eaten one in quite a long while.  And grilled cheese sandwiches always take me back to those first grilled cheese sandwiches I would make with kraft american cheese singles and weber’s white bread… watching old reruns of the Wonder Years and… riding my bike around my cul-de-sac neighborhood… around and around…

Those were the days!

This is not that same grilled cheese sandwich.  But it pretty much is the best, crispiest, grilled cheese I’ve ever made!

I wanted to make an Italian-style grilled cheese so I paired it with marinara sauce which I made myself.  You may be wondering what’s the cornmeal doing all plastered onto this sandwich.  Well, it’s very Italian (I think) but it’s also the best way to get a crispy exterior, as I’ve just now discovered.  And slightly dipped into this marinara sauce — it honestly tastes a lot like cheese pizza.  Pizza without the hassle of rising pizza dough or turning the oven on or anything like that.  Alright, I must admit, I actually enjoy all that pizza work.  But this grilled cheese with buttery slices of bread and a crispy exterior with toasted cornmeal is mind-blowing delicious!

Cornmeal Crusted Grilled Cheese with Marinara Sauce

Yields 1
A grilled cheese sandwich with a buttery and crispy cornmeal crust exterior and served with marinara sauce.


Cornmeal Crusted Grilled Cheese

  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1oz mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2oz parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
  • 1-2 tablespoon cornmeal

Marinara Sauce

  • 3 medium tomatoes (or 1 pound)
  • 2 garlic cloves (halved)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 - 1 tablespoon sugar
  • salt, pepper
  • 2-3 sprigs each of parsley and basil (or a pinch each of dried parsley and basil)


Cornmeal Crusted Grilled Cheese adapted from: The Strength of Faith

Marinara Sauce slightly adapted from The Joy of Cooking's: Simplest Italian Tomato Sauce Marinara recipe



Step 1
Add tomatoes into a pot of water. Bring to a boil and simmer just a few minutes. Drain water and run under cold water. Peel tomatoes and set aside.
Step 2
In a large saucepan add olive oil, garlic, parsley, and basil, and tomatoes. Simmer until tomatoes soften and smash tomatoes up with spatula. Season with salt and pepper. Add sugar and taste to adjust. Let cool and then puree in a food processor.
Step 3
Now warm a skillet with butter and keep the heat on low. Brush both bread slices on one side with melted butter using a pastry brush. Dip both sides into the cornmeal. Place butter side down slice on skillet, top with cheese and the other bread slice (cornmeal side up). Allow the bread to slowly toast... Flip sandwich once the bottom is nice and crisp. Brown the other side.
Step 4
Serve with marinara sauce and enjoy!



  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress) says:

    I’m not normally a huge grilled cheese fan but I could DEFINITELY get into this-looks so delicious!

  • Kim@Treats & Trinkets says:

    Umm, there totally needs to be a song about grilled cheese. I’d help, but I can’t rhyme.

    Now the only thing I want to do is go home and make grilled cheese with cornmeal.

  • Adora's Box says:

    Now that is a grilled cheese sandwich worth writing a song for. Love it. The sandwich and the sauce is such a perfect combo.

  • Laura Dembowski says:

    I love music! I have very eclectic tastes and it for sure transports me to all different times and memories. It makes me happy or sad – love music so much! I’m not a tomato sauce fan, but that grilled cheese looks so good! Love the idea of adding cornmeal for some crunch!

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