Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pesto Grilled Cheese

Ah, the grilled cheese sandwich, a.k.a. the most versatile, easy, sandwich to make and you're pretty much guaranteed to have the ingredients at home. Everyone has their own techniques, preferred cheese, and style of grilling the sandwich, but if you've never tried shoving a little pesto in your grilled cheese, I think you should try it. I won't push you or pressure you; I'm only asking you to consider it.

Ingredients:
bread
cheese
butter
tomatoes
pesto!
(add some bacon if you want to lose the vegetarian aspect)
For my cheese choice, I chose Havarti (did you like that 'ch' alliterating there?) because it's soft, creamy, not overly salty, and it melts really well. It's a Danish semi-soft cheese made with cow's milk. If you've never had it, it's definitely worth trying. Next time you do wine & cheese night, get some Havarti with dill, it's really good with grapes and water crackers. For this sandwich, I like to slice the block into thick-ish pieces to lay on my sandwich - maybe something between 1/4" and 1/2" - since Havarti melts well. CALORIE ALERT! If I were using a harder cheese, like cheddar, I might grate it to ensure that all of it will melt.

Slice up the tomato. I used a really ripe plum tomato that my sister left behind when she went off to school. I'm not a big fan of tomatoes on sandwiches, actually, that's an understatement; I despise tomatoes on sandwiches because they're slimy and they make the sandwich slippery so ingredients shoot out every time you try to take a bite. However, grilled cheese with tomato is awesome (if the tomato is ripe and flavorful) because the tomato gets warmed so the flavor is enhanced and the melted cheese acts like a glue so there's no slippage.
Butter one side of each slice of bread. I like the homestyle bread that my grocery store bakes fresh because the pieces are really big (which means a bigger sandwich!) and sliced thick, but use any bread you like. Also, if you have softened spreadable butter, then that's much better than what I did. I almost massacred my bread trying to spread ice cold butter on it.
And don't forget the pesto, please. HOMEMADE, of course. Have it ready and at your side to spread on the sandwich.
Heat up your frying pan or cast iron skillet (like moi) over a medium flame and place the bread, butter side UP, on the pan. Wait a few minutes (this step is to get the side of the bread that will be in contact with the cheese warmed up). When the butter starts to melt, flip the slices over. You'll hear a lovely sizzling from the butter. Place cheese slices on one side of the bread and spread pesto on the other. Oh, and don't forget the tomato! I put the tomato on top of the cheese to make it easier to close the sandwich.
Close the sandwich (flip the pesto-spread piece of bread onto the cheesy one and not the other way around, duh, unless you want to make a mess) and let it cook and sizzle on one side for a minute or two - check to see if the cheese is melty and has glued the two pieces of bread together - and then flip. Turn off the heat and leave the sandwich alone for another minute or two.
And then plate your lovely creation.
And then slice it so you can see how pretty it is on the inside and also to make it easier to eat.
And then take a bite, chew, and reflect on how delicious the flavor combination is: creamy melty cheese, soft sweet and tart tomato, fragrant fresh pesto, all squished between two crispy pieces of buttery bread.
And then, reflect upon how this ooey gooey cheese is worth the calories.
Et voila, le recipe page:

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