Rajas Grilled Cheese Panini + Tillamook Cheese Giveaway!

Rajas…isn’t it great when you can finally put a name to something you’ve been eating forever? I never knew until about a year ago that bold-flavored strips of roasted chiles and onions are called rajas. I made the connection not in the context of rajas con crema or any other traditional Mexican dish. Nope, my first exposure to the term rajas came with fries.

There was a long line of people waiting for the Rajas Fries from LA’s Frysmith at a food truck event I attended a while back. This dish, their most popular, consists of “fire-roasted poblano chiles, caramelized onions and shawarma-marinated steak with Jack cheese”. Over fries. Sounded amazing to this fry fan.

I made it to the front of the line and I had to crane my neck to make eye contact with the guy taking the orders (food truck windows are so high up!). I’d never heard the term rajas before. I debated in my head whether this was a Spanish word and therefore I should pronounce it “rrrrah-has” or if it was some other language and I should just hit it with a regular ol’ American “rah-jas”. Taking a cue from the poblanos and out of respect for the seven years of Spanish I took in school, I went with a tentative “rah-has”. Phew! The guy repeated it back to me the same way. Hurdle surmounted.

Take it from someone who usually doesn’t even add so much as ketchup to fries (I’m a fry purist), these rajas-and-marinated-steak-loaded fries were crazy good! Just to be clear, the roasted poblanos aren’t especially spicy, but they bring a ton of flavor and just a hint of heat.

In celebration of National Grilled Cheese Month, Tillamook asked me to contribute a recipe for the Grilled Cheese Recipepalooza feature on their Loaf Life blog. When I saw that pepper jack these was among their cheeses I could choose from, I immediately thought of the rajas from Frysmith to pair with it. I grilled the onions and peppers in minutes right on the panini maker. With the addition of pepper jack, things do start to get a little spicier so if you’d rather keep it on the cooler side go for regular Monterey Jack.

Read on for my Rajas Grilled Cheese Panini recipe…plus the chance to win a Tillamook Cheese Deli Sampler Gift Box! [THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED]

Enter to win a Tillamook Cheese Deli Sampler Gift Box!

** Tillamook Cheese Deli Sampler Gift Box Giveaway! **

You’ll be able to make grilled cheese galore if you win this Deli Sampler Gift Box, provided by Tillamook. It contains four of their most popular half-pound loafs:

  • Hot Habanero Jack
  • Sharp Cheddar
  • Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar
  • Pepper Jack

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post telling us which of these four cheeses you’d like to dig into first. [THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED]

The giveaway will close on Sunday, April 22 at noon PDT. I will use random.org to select one winner and I will announce the winner in this post. I will contact the winner via e-mail – if I don’t receive a response within 5 days I will draw another name. My apologies to international readers, the prize can only be shipped to U.S. addresses.

** UPDATE 4/24/12: Congratulations to our winner – #39 Neena! 

Rajas Grilled Cheese Panini

[print_this]

Rajas Grilled Cheese Panini

Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 panini

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 poblano pepper *
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small white onion, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds, rings intact
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 8 ounces pepper jack cheese, sliced

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the panini grill according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Slice off the tops and bottoms of both peppers. Stand each one up on its end and slice it open from top to bottom. With the poblano you’ll be able to open the pepper out flat; with the red bell pepper you’ll need to cut the walls of the pepper a section at a time. Remove and discard the seeds and trim any white ribs.
  3. Lay the peppers cut side down on the grill and close the lid. Grill the peppers until they’re charred and blistered, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a paper bag and leave them in there for 20 minutes to allow the steam to release the skin.
  4. While the peppers are steaming, drizzle the onion rounds with oil and grill them until they’re tender with dark grill marks, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the onions to a medium bowl, separating the rings. Keep the panini grill on.
  5. One at a time, remove the peppers from the paper bag, peel off the skins (if they don’t come off easily, try putting them back in the bag to steam for a little while longer) and slice the peppers lengthwise into strips. Toss the peppers in with the grilled onions.
  6. For each sandwich: Lay a slice of pepper jack cheese on a slice of sourdough bread. Top the cheese with a generous pile of peppers and onions and second slice of cheese. Close the sandwich with another slice of bread.
  7. Grill the panini until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted, 4 to 5 minutes.

* Some grocery stores may label them as “pasilla” peppers, which is a technically incorrect (but common) designation.

[/print_this]

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KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
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116 Comments

  1. Kristy wrote:

    I would totally dig into the pepper jack first! But the whole package would be dug into in quick succession!

    Posted 4.19.12 Reply
  2. sara wrote:

    That sandwich looks amazing! I would so dig into the sharp cheddar cheese first…I love me a sharp cheddar! 🙂

    Posted 4.19.12 Reply
  3. Kristi S wrote:

    I would love to get into that cheddar, yum!

    Posted 4.19.12 Reply
  4. Kristi S wrote:

    I subscribe via email

    Posted 4.19.12 Reply
  5. Marissa wrote:

    I want that smoked black pepper white cheddar. I love Tilamook cheese, but I’ve never seen that variety. Their sharp cheddar is one of my favorites.

    Posted 4.19.12 Reply
  6. mub wrote:

    Oh yum… I’d love that smoked black pepper white cheddar! It looks fantastic!

    I like the looks of that sandwich. I might have to make something similar for dinner tonight!

    Posted 4.19.12 Reply
  7. Stephanie wrote:

    oooh! smoked black pepper white cheddar!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  8. Kathy, this look sublime! I have grilled cheese today too. 🙂

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  9. Oh… the habanero!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  10. Andrea wrote:

    Hot habanero jack! On top of a homemade mozzarella pizza !

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  11. Jen wrote:

    Oh yum! Either the cheddar, or pepper jack for sure. I love their cheeses!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  12. kristin wrote:

    pepper jack would be yummy on a grilled cheese!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  13. the black pepper with cheddar sounds amazing!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  14. Pepperjack is my ALL TIME favorite cheese!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  15. Cassie wrote:

    I am all over the black pepper and smoked white cheddar. I can barely stand the wait!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  16. Morgan wrote:

    the smoked black pepper white cheddar looks to die for. Honest to goodness, that’s what I’d dig into first!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  17. Laura P wrote:

    I would totally dig into the smoked black pepper cheddar! It sounds awesome!!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  18. Jamie wrote:

    Smoked black pepper white cheddar, that intrigues me!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  19. I would love to try the Hot Habanero Jack! YUM!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  20. Sharon C wrote:

    The smoked black pepper white cheddar for me!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  21. Carole Resnick wrote:

    Smoked black pepper White cheddar The best of two worlds.

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  22. Sharon wrote:

    Sharp cheddar. I love Tillamook

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  23. Lisa Dufresne wrote:

    Sharp Cheddar of course, I’m from Vermont!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  24. Yenta Mary wrote:

    Oh, the black pepper cheddar sounds so intriguing! I’d have to start there … 🙂

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  25. Mippy wrote:

    Oh wow! I’ve never had Tilamook cheese. I would dig into the pepper hack probly first so I can make the recipe above or I might just dig into the Hot Habanero Jack as I have not tried that before and I like ro try new things! 🙂

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  26. Kathy Bose wrote:

    The smoked black pepper white cheddar so soooo good!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  27. Angela wrote:

    Ooo hot habanero jack!!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  28. Paula Tavernie wrote:

    Id dig into the Sharp Cheddar first! Yummm!
    ptavernie at yahoo dot com

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  29. Eileen Burke wrote:

    I would dig into the hot habanero jack first 🙂

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  30. Erin R. wrote:

    Holy cow, I would MOW through that sharp cheddar. And what a fantastic idea with the rajas grilled cheese!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  31. Nanci wrote:

    With out a doubt the PEPPERJACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  32. sara wrote:

    I would taste the sharp cheddar first, but my son would probably steal the other 3 and make grilled cheeses for everyone!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  33. Deb B wrote:

    Hubby and I would love to try the Hot Habenero Jack on a grilled cheese. Or even better on a burger. Yum!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  34. Valeen N wrote:

    The Smoked Black Pepper with White Cheddar! Yum!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  35. Margot wrote:

    Yummy, I will feature it as recipe of the week, just a thumb and link to your site. Hope you don’t mind. Have a wonderful weekend!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Thanks, Margot!

      Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  36. Nichole wrote:

    Hot Habanero Jack, most definitely!!!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  37. Lynn R wrote:

    Wow! If someone had made up a cheese package to please both my husband and myself they couldn’t have done a better job. I’d totally dig into the sharp cheddar first – it’s my favorite cheese. But it’d be followed closely by the black pepper white cheddar. However, my husband would be waiting at the mailbox to appropriate the habanero jack (which otherwise would never cross our threshhold!). The pepper jack would then be the light palate cleanser for him. 🙂

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  38. Robbi Hudson wrote:

    I would have to try the Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar first.

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  39. Neena wrote:

    Hot Habanero fer sure! I love spicy…but they all look and sound SOO good. 🙂

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  40. Linda J wrote:

    I would start with the Smoked White Cheddar. How good does that sound!!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  41. Penny Snyder wrote:

    Would love to try the ?Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar first!! grammypenny@frontier.com

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  42. Babs wrote:

    Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar is intriguing and also the Hot Habanero Jack. I have neither seen no tried either of these flavors so it would be a tough decision which to dig into first.

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  43. kristen m wrote:

    I would jump into the sharp cheddar 1st!
    blue65829 at aol dot com

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  44. Shannon Baas wrote:

    I would love to try the sharp cheddar.

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  45. Jessie C. wrote:

    Pepper Jack sounds great to try first.

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  46. Jaque R. wrote:

    I would be digging into the Hot Habanero Jack first! 🙂 Thank you.

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  47. CEB wrote:

    I would go for the pepper jack. And hide it from the rest of the family!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  48. MaryBeth wrote:

    Tough choice but I pick the sharp cheddar.

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  49. Jean D. wrote:

    I’d dig into the pepper jack first so I could make the Rajas Grilled Cheese Panini – sounds delicious. But want to try all the cheeses – all so sooooo good.

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  50. Laura wrote:

    I would start with the smoked black pepper white cheddar. I think it would be delicious in a sourdough/roast beef/dill pickle panini.

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  51. Debbie C wrote:

    Definitely, the Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar is the one I want to try first. It sounds deliciously savory!

    chrisdeglen(at)gmail(dot)com

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  52. ky2here wrote:

    Bring on the antacid – I’m starting with the Hot Habanero Jack

    ky2here at msn dot com

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  53. Starr Greenwell wrote:

    the Tillamook smoked black pepper!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  54. Renee G wrote:

    I would love to try the Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar
    rsgrandinetti@yahoo(dot)com

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  55. Judy wrote:

    I love this brand …. amazing pepper jack with tomatoes and mayo on white bread …. true southerner’s delight !!! Goes so well with good sweet tea ………

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  56. LittleEagle wrote:

    I’d try the smoked black pepper white cheddar first. Love visiting them but this is a new flavor.

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  57. karen wrote:

    The smoked black pepper white cheddar is intriguing! Never heard of it before. But I’d happily eat them all.
    karenreichmann@hotmail.com

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  58. Renata wrote:

    Sharp cheddar looks good to me!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  59. robyn paris wrote:

    i would like to try the hot habenaro jack first

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  60. Corisa wrote:

    The smoked black pepper white cheddar sounds soo different and delicious ! Definately my first choice!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  61. Amy S wrote:

    The smoked black pepper white cheddar sounds delicious!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  62. Valerie Taylor Mabrey wrote:

    Sharp Cheddar
    vmkids3 at msn dot com

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  63. nickie wrote:

    Sharp cheddar

    nickieisis3atgmaildotcom

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  64. deb wrote:

    Hot habenero jack,, we absolutely love hot cheeses. Whether melted over some tortilla chips or ontop of a grilled burger. Just about any kind of pannini cheesy goodness.!

    Posted 4.20.12 Reply
  65. joseph gersch jr wrote:

    Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  66. Claire wrote:

    Pepper jack – my favorite!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  67. debbie wrote:

    The smoked black pepper white chedder, than all the others. I love cheese.

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  68. Tari Lawson wrote:

    I would cut right into the ?Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar.

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  69. Georgina wrote:

    Sharp Cheddar for sure perfect for crackers and to shred on veggies!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  70. Rhonda Petersen wrote:

    The smoked black pepper white cheddar

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  71. Rob wrote:

    Definitely the smoked black pepper white cheddar! Mmmm.

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  72. Susan Smith wrote:

    I’d love to try the Sharp Chedder first

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  73. Sarah wrote:

    I would love to try the Black Pepper Cheddar – that would be a new one for me!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  74. mlb wrote:

    That’s a hard one. I think the hot habanero jack with the smoked black pepper Cheddar a very close second! I love Tillamook cheese!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  75. tracy davis wrote:

    Tillamook smoked black pepper

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  76. alyce poalillo wrote:

    I love Tillamook cheese-had a chance to tour their factory and it was awesome! I would try the PepperJack first!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      How awesome – I’d love to tour their factory!

      Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  77. Gloria S wrote:

    I’d try the Pepper Jack firtst

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  78. Diane Baum wrote:

    I would like to try the sharp chedder please

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  79. Kyl Neusch wrote:

    Pepper Jack

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  80. Carol F wrote:

    I would like to try the Sharp Cheddar first
    carolkfoster at comcast dot net

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  81. Henal Patel wrote:

    Habanero Jack! I love a good Pepper Jack…but really the spicier the cheese, the better in my opinion.

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  82. Suzanne K wrote:

    I’d go for the Hot Habanero Jack first!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  83. Kristy T wrote:

    I think I’d try the sharp cheddar first as that’s my favorite. YUM! thanks for hosting!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  84. Jennifer M. wrote:

    I’d like to try the smoked black pepper white cheddar….sounds good!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  85. Kathleen Conner wrote:

    Wow, I like the sound of the Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar.

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  86. Zachary Kl. wrote:

    The smoked black pepper white cheddar cheese! Delicious!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  87. paige jagan wrote:

    I would love to try the pepper jack cheese, love tillamook!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  88. Debra F wrote:

    I’m exited to try the Tillamook smoked black pepper

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  89. Diane F wrote:

    I would try the Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar first.

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  90. Louis wrote:

    The Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  91. Meryl wrote:

    Definitely the Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  92. Kathy wrote:

    Definitely the smoked black pepper white cheddar!!!!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  93. Leslie S. wrote:

    I would go for the sharp cheddar but my husband would go for the pepper jack.Thanks!
    lstanziani(at)yahoo(dot)com

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  94. spirit_kim wrote:

    Let me at the Pepper Jack, please!

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  95. Monique Rizzo wrote:

    Id like the Smoked black pepper white cheddar.
    Thanks for the chance.
    mogrill12@gmail.com

    Posted 4.21.12 Reply
  96. Katie wrote:

    first choice to try: Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar

    sounds so different and delicious!

    Posted 4.22.12 Reply
  97. Shirley wrote:

    The smoked black pepper and white cheddar sound amazing.

    Posted 4.22.12 Reply
  98. Ray wrote:

    Sharp cheddar is a perfect combo for crackers, veggies, omelets – thanks!

    Posted 4.22.12 Reply
  99. Robin wrote:

    I would love the pepper jack cheese

    Posted 4.22.12 Reply
  100. Alicia wrote:

    I would love to try the black pepper and white cheddar. It sounds delicious!!

    Posted 4.22.12 Reply
  101. mickeyfan wrote:

    ?Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar

    Posted 4.22.12 Reply
  102. dddiva wrote:

    Pepper Jack for me. 🙂

    Posted 4.22.12 Reply
  103. leah g wrote:

    mmm Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar sounds awesome. I cannot ever find Tillamook here, very sad.

    Posted 4.22.12 Reply
  104. MizzScarlet wrote:

    Pepper Jack

    Posted 4.22.12 Reply
  105. Cellabella wrote:

    I’d like to try the smoked black pepper white cheddar!

    Posted 4.22.12 Reply
  106. What a fantastic giveaway, Kathy! Sorry to see I missed it, but just wanted to say your grilled cheese looks sensational! Love that big pile of roasted veggies on top. Great recipe!

    Posted 4.23.12 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Thanks so much, Georgia!

      Posted 4.23.12 Reply
  107. that smoked black pepper and white cheddar cheese would be the first to go under the knife 🙂
    Your grilled cheese looks wonderful!

    Posted 4.23.12 Reply
  108. Cyndi wrote:

    We stopped at a Mexican restaurant for breakfast this morning on our way back from a camping trip. My Huevos Rancheros had rajas on top. Soooo good. The poblanos are better than bitter green bell peppers. Maybe I should start using them all the time instead of the green bells. That sandwich is on my to-do list!

    Posted 4.23.12 Reply
  109. Danica wrote:

    Pepper Jack, hands down! I love, love, LOVE Tillamook cheese, it’s my favorite and I know this would go great on so many different foods. So many options! What a great giveaway! 🙂

    Posted 4.23.12 Reply
  110. Cyndi wrote:

    I guess I should add which cheese I’d love: It would have to be the hot habañero!

    Posted 4.23.12 Reply
  111. Diana wrote:

    This sounds yummy! On step 4, should I close the lid of the panini maker when grilling the onions? Thanks!

    Posted 2.25.14 Reply
    • Kathy Strahs wrote:

      Hi Diana — yes, close the lid! 🙂

      Posted 2.25.14 Reply
      • Diana wrote:

        Thanks! As you can guess, I’m a newbie to panini presses! 🙂

        Posted 2.26.14 Reply