Charred Spanish Ham and Cheese Melts and "Hot" Olives with Herbs and Spices

Rachael's note: Serrano ham is similar to prosciutto and available at deli counter or in pre-sliced packages near the deli. If you can't find it, go for the prosciutto. Preheat grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high. Manchego is the most commonly found Spanish import cheese in markets today. Look for it with the imported cheeses offered in your market. Look for giardiniera (hot veggies salad) at the salad bar station in your market or, in jars on international foods aisle.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 20 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Cook: 10 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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8 slices crusty bread from a good-sized loaf, 1/2-inch thick, at least 5 inches across and 3 inches wide

1/3 pound thinly slices serrano ham

1/3 to 1/2 pound manchego, thinly sliced with sharp knife or cheese plane

1 cup hot pickled vegetable salad of cauliflower, carrots, celery and hot peppers (giardiniera) drained,

1/2 cup sweet pickled red pepper relish or sweet pickle relish

2 cups mixed good quality olives

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


  1. Layer serrano and cheese in equal amounts on 4 slices of bread. Grind the hot pickled vegetables and the sweet pickle relish in food processor and pulse chop to make a relish. Spread the relish evenly on sandwich tops and set into place.
  2. Place olives in a foil pouch and season with thyme, lemon zest, cumin seeds and red pepper flakes. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and seal the pouch. Place pouch on grill and cook a few minutes on each side to heat the olives, herb and spices.
  3. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high.
  4. Place sandwiches on grill and weight down with heavy skillet or a brick covered in foil. Char and heat the sandwiches through, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  5. Cut sammies in half and serve with "Hot" Olives alongside.
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