Slices of soft ciabatta bread spread with melted garlic butter and topped with Manchego cheese. These Italian Dunkers taste just like an old school cafeteira favorite from back in the day. Dunk the toasted, cheesy bread in warm marinara sauce and you are in for a treat!
My favorite "hot" lunch from elementary school was, hands down, Italian Dunkers. The bread was always rectangular shaped and covered in warm mozzarella cheese. The marinara sauce was served in little plastic cups and it seemed like such a fancy lunch option to third grade me!
I had been telling my boys about my favorite thing to get from the cafeteria and decided to recreate it for them. I'm happy to say they get as excited about these Italian Dunkers as I did so many years ago on Italian Dunker day!
- ciabatta bread (loaf or rolls)
- unsalted butter
- garlic salt
- italian seasoning
- Manchego cheese
- marinara sauce
How to Make Italian Dunkers
Preheat your oven to 375°.
In a small saucepan, warm the marinara sauce over low heat while you prepare and bake the bread.
I like to make sure my bread is cut to the size of the cheese. To do this, I simply get out one of the slices of cheese and cut the bread to match. If I have a ciabatta loaf, I like to cut the rounded edges off first. Then I use that slice of cheese to cut the loaf down to the right size. Last, I slice it in half.
If I'm using the ciabatta rolls and I'm going for the nostalgic rectangular shape, I cut the rounded ends off and then slice the bread to the size of my cheese. Then cut the roll in half.
Lay the sliced bread, crust side down, on a large baking sheet.
Mix the garlic salt with the melted butter. Then, using a pastry brush, brush the butter onto the cut sides of each slice of bread. Butter is my favorite ingredient of all time, so I like to make sure the slices of bread are pretty well covered (and I think that's what makes these so good!)
Now you will sprinkle each slice of bread with the Italian seasoning. Finally, lay one slice of Manchego cheese on each slice of bread.
Place the baking pan in the preheated 375° oven for about 4 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Then you will switch the oven to broil and broil for about 4 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Remove from the oven and serve with personal bowls of warm marinara sauce for dipping!
What can I do with the bread I cut off?
Save the extra pieces of bread in a zip top bag and store in the freezer. The next time you need breadcrumbs for a recipe, place the thawed bread in a food processor and blend until you have fine crumbs.
How can I make this gluten free?
To make this gluten free, use these gluten free ciabatta rolls. (Check your local grocery store if you don't want to buy several packages at a time, but you can always freeze the ones you aren't using right away!)
- 15.5 ounce jar marinara sauce
- 4 Ciabatta rolls
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ pound Manchego cheese, sliced to medium thickness
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- In a small saucepan, heat the marinara sauce over low heat while you prepare the bread.
- Cut ciabatta rolls so they are about the same size as your slices of cheese. Then slice in half. Lay rolls on large baking sheet, crust side down.
- Combine the melted butter and garlic salt. Using a pastry brush, brush butter mixture on cut side of bread slices. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Place one slice of cheese on each of the pieces of bread.
- Bake in 375° oven for about 4 minutes or until cheese is melted. Switch oven to broil. Broil for about 4 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Remove from oven and serve with warm marinara sauce.