French in a Flash: Vegetarian Grilled Zucchini Croque Mademoiselle

There's a place downstairs from my old apartment in Paris called the Horse's Tavern Café. I've never seen the inside; for me, it's all about sitting at the tables that tumble forth out of the front door and onto the Carrefour Odéon, and ordering from their "Croques" menu: a whole list of different melted cheese sandwiches. I love the one that comes with prosciutto instead of regular Paris ham. But there's also the three cheese. And a whole array of different hams. I'm like a kid in a ham candy store.

But the vegetarian options are limited, and because I spent twelve years as a vegetarian, I wanted to create a vegetarian sandwich as amazing as the traditional Croque Monsieur, as well as all the other croque options at the Horse's Tavern Café. This version uses chargrilled, herbes de Provence-scented zucchini for that same smoky ham taste and that bite of something other than cheese that adds interest to the sandwich. I sandwich the zucchini between two piles of Emmenthaler and two slices of rustic white sandwich bread, and toast it. Then, I smother the top of the sandwich with béchamel punched up with Dijon mustard and a fresh scrape of nutmeg, and another blanket of cheese. Into the broiler the sandwich goes to bubble and blister, and you have a big fork-and-knife, Horse's Tavern-worthy, vegetarian Croque. It's just a little more delicate that the Monsieur, so I call it the Mademoiselle.