[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

A grilled cheese inspired by cemitas—the Pueblo, Mexico sandwich specialty. Stringy Oaxacan cheese surrounds a spicy, creamy mash of avocado and chipotles in adobo, while a layer of whole papalo leaves add an herbal pop. This sandwich may not have the meat or the classic cemita roll, but it still manages to capture the bold, fiery flavors of the original.

Note: Papalo is an herb commonly used in Pueblan cuisine. It may be available in Latin American specialty stores. If you cannot find it, substitute with cilantro.

  • Yield:Makes 1 sandwich
  • Active time:15 minutes
  • Total time:15 minutes
  • Ingredients

    • 1 finely chopped chipotle in adobo, plus 2 teaspoons sauce
    • 1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 even pats
    • 2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, such as Pepperidge Farm or Arnold
    • 2 ounces Oaxacan cheese, grated
    • 8 to 10 papalo leaves (see note)
    • Kosher salt


    1. 1.

      In a small bowl, combine chipotle in adobo and avocado. Mash with a fork to combine.

    2. 2.

      Melt 1 pat of butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until foaming subsides. Add both bread slices and cook, swirling occasionally, until pale golden brown on bottom side, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

    3. 3.

      Transfer bread to a cutting board toasted-side-up. Place half of the Oaxacan cheese on one slice, followed by avocado-chipotle mash and papalo. Top with remaining Oaxacan cheese and close sandwich with the top slice of bread toasted side down.

    4. 4.

      Return skillet to burner and melt 1 more pat of butter over medium-low heat. Add sandwich and cook, swirling occasionally, until deep, even golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove sandwich using a flexible metal spatula. Add the remaining 1 pat of butter. Return sandwich to skillet cooked-side up. Season with salt. Cook, swirling occasionally, until second side is deep, even golden brown and cheese is thoroughly melted, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

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