After a week battling the latest flu bug in our home, we are emerging from our fluish fog with a new family favorite: Cheesy Garlic Bread. With its comforting, melted cheesiness and full-on garlic flavor, this easy baked bread was the perfect complement to the mellow soups we ate to nourish us back to health (Minestrone Primavera with Chicken Meatballs and Sarah’s Warm Spice Chicken Soup).

This is the perfect big-batch garlic bread recipe, as I use an entire loaf of grocery-store French bread as the base. I always bake both halves of the loaf, which means that there will be plenty left over for my small family to enjoy for at least a couple days. Leftovers can be refrigerated, or even frozen, and simply reheated in the oven until hot.

Sarah's Best Cheesy Garlic Bread is a fun, easy and delicious snack that is perfect for dipping in your favorite tomato sauce. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Sarah's Best Cheesy Garlic Bread is a fun, easy and delicious snack that is perfect for dipping in your favorite tomato sauce. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

While French bread is the base, it is quite bland in flavor on its own. To rectify this, I cover each half with a seasoned, soft garlic butter that consists of a stick of salted butter combined with a healthy amount of freshly minced garlic, fresh parsley, onion powder and black pepper. I use a spoon to mix it all together, and then, since I use salted butter for this recipe, I taste the mixture to see if more salt is needed. The garlic butter may be used immediately or refrigerated for up to a week and softened again before using.

To assemble the garlic bread, I slice the loaf of French bread in half, lengthwise, and lay the two halves on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, face side up. Next, I spread the garlic butter evenly over each half, making sure to work it straight out to the edges.

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A loaf of French bread is sliced in half and then the garlic butter is distributed evenly over each half and spread all the way to the edges. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
A loaf of French bread is sliced in half and then the garlic butter is distributed evenly over each half and spread all the way to the edges. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Once the bread is fully buttered, it is time to add the cheese. I use thick-cut shredded mozzarella as the main cheese, but any good melting cheese will work. Once this has been evenly distributed, I follow that with a layer of shredded Parmesan cheese, and you could also use grated Parmesan if that is what you have on hand.

I add a sprinkling of dried parsley as a final garnish before baking, but you could skip this step or use another dried herb like basil or oregano, or even a blend of Italian seasoning.

Thick-cut shredded mozzarella and shredded Parmesan cheeses are scattered evenly over the top of each bread half and garnished with a sprinkling of dried parsley. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Thick-cut shredded mozzarella and shredded Parmesan cheeses are scattered evenly over the top of each bread half and garnished with a sprinkling of dried parsley. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

I bake the prepared bread in a moderately hot oven (400 degrees) until the cheese is fully melted and bubbly, about 20 minutes. At this stage, I switch the oven to its broiler setting and broil the bread until the cheesy top is golden brown and crispy, just for a minute or two.

I do not cover the bread with foil before baking, as I prefer the crust to be crispy and the crumb to be soft; however, if you prefer a softer version, you can wrap each half in foil before baking. Once ready, I use a long, serrated knife to slice the bread into thick pieces and then I serve it immediately with a simple marinara sauce for dipping (recipe included).

Filled with garlicky good flavor and a satisfying amount of melted cheese, this Cheesy Garlic Bread is easy to make and even easier to eat, with or without the flu.

Salted butter, minced garlic, crushed red pepper, onion powder, fresh parsley and black pepper are combined to create the garlic butter spread. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Salted butter, minced garlic, crushed red pepper, onion powder, fresh parsley and black pepper are combined to create the garlic butter spread. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Sarah’s Best Cheesy Garlic Bread

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Serves: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

1 16-ounce loaf of French bread, sliced lengthwise in half

½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened to room temperature

6 cloves garlic, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

½ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon kosher salt (taste the butter mixture before adding)

1 ¾ cups shredded mozzarella, thick cut if available

¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried parsley (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Lay the bread halves on the baking sheet, face side up.

In a small bowl, add the softened butter, garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh parsley, onion powder and pepper. Use a spoon to mix the ingredients until combined, then taste and add the salt if needed, or more as desired. The garlic butter may be used immediately or refrigerated for up to 1 week and softened again before using.

Spread the garlic butter evenly over both bread halves, working right up to the edges. Distribute the mozzarella cheese evenly over both halves, then repeat with the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle each half with dried parsley, if using.

Bake until the cheese is fully melted and bubbly. Switch the oven to the broiler setting and broil until the tops are golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes.

Slice and serve immediately. Leftovers may be refrigerated for up to 5 days and reheated in the oven at 400 degrees, or frozen for up to 2 months. When reheating, you may cover the top lightly with a piece of foil to prevent overbrowning if needed.

Sarah's Best Cheesy Garlic Bread can be served as a garnish for soups, or as an appetizer with her Simple Marinara Sauce. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Sarah's Best Cheesy Garlic Bread can be served as a garnish for soups, or as an appetizer with her Simple Marinara Sauce. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Simple Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

16 ounces tomato sauce

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

In a small saucepan, add all of the ingredients and cook over medium heat until the sauce begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard the garlic pieces and taste to adjust seasoning as desired. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Sarah’s tips:

  • This recipe can easily be halved by using just half of the bread loaf and half of the ingredients.
  • The cheeses and herbs can be altered to suit your taste.
  • For a softer texture, wrap the halves in foil before baking.

Recipe Time Capsule:

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Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.