Ooey Gooey

My family loves spaghetti with meat sauce. What we love even more is having some delicious bread to help sop up any sauce that doesn't find its way to our bellies with the pasta. And if we're looking to make that process downright magical, this is what happens:

A half hour of fairly simple prep leaves you with a loaf of bread that you and yours can tear bits from and enjoy as it is or, as we prefer, dip into pools of puddled sauce on our plates. Just look at those pockets of melted cheese. How could you not fall in love?

I actually keep a loaf or two of sourdough bread in my freezer for just such occasions. I can take them out and pre-bake them to crisp up the crusts a bit in advance and then invest about a half an hour — most of which is baking time anyway — and I'll have an amazing side for my favorite pasta dinner. And did I mention pockets of cheese?

If you don't like your cheesy bread spicy, just omit the red pepper flakes. Just make sure you assemble this amazing bread for you and your family. And speaking of families, if you happen to have kids around during dinner prep, get them involved with making this. Little fingers are great at slathering spread and stuffing cheese into all those nooks and crannies!

Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread

  • 1 large Artisan bread loaf (I chose sourdough because my family adores it)
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 8 oz. shredded cheese (choose your favorite variety or choose a blend)
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Slice the bread horizontally and vertically into 1-inch cubes, leaving the bottom of the loaf intact with the bread pieces still attached. The top of the loaf should look like it has a criss-cross pattern to it.

Mix the butter, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if desired) together to form a spread.

Lay the bread on a piece of foil. (The foil should be large enough the wrap the bread.) Using a butter knife, slather the spread in the spaces between the bread cubes. Use all of the spread. Sprinkle the shredded cheese and Italian seasoning into the spaces between the bread cubes and over the top of the loaf of bread. Wrap the bread in the foil.

Bake the loaf in the foil in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Unwrap the top of the loaf and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and the top of the bread is crispy. Serve hot!

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes