Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ultimate grilled cheese with pesto

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I love grilled cheese above all other sandwiches. And I love all grilled cheese, high and low, even American cheese on flabby white bread smeared with butter, the way my grandma made it when my parents went out of town. My calorie-conscious mom made her grilled cheese open-faced in the toaster oven, dry as a bone. Grandma believed in butter, as all grandmas should.

My favorite grilled cheese these days involves fresh mozzarella, pesto, and La Brea Bakery rosemary olive oil bread. The cheese and bread are on our "must buy" list at Costco. I make my own pesto, either a traditional basil pesto or, if I'm feeling creative, maybe something unusual like a radish leaf pesto.

I brush the outside of the sandwiches with olive oil, toast them slowly in a cast-iron skillet until they're golden, and serve them for a light dinner or a weekend lunch. The cheese and pesto run together in a mild, aromatic, creamy mess. The bread has just the right amount of crispy crunch on the outside. Four of us have eaten a dozen sandwiches in one sitting. I've given in; now I just use the whole loaf.

Of course, your mileage may vary. My ultimate grilled cheese may not be your ultimate grilled cheese. You may prefer nuts in your bread, a sharper cheese, mustard instead of pesto, a slice of tomato, a bit of bacon. I won't argue. It's grilled cheese. It's all good.

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Ultimate grilled cheese with pesto
Creamy mozzarella, aromatic pesto and La Brea Bakery bread: Now that's a great grilled cheese.
1 loaf La Brea Bakery rosemary olive oil bread1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese1/2 cup pesto sauce (prepared or homemade)3 Tbsp olive oil salt and pepper to taste
Slice the bread approximately half an inch thick. You should end up with 16 slices, not including the heels. Drain as much liquid from the mozzarella as you can and pat it dry with a paper towel. Slice the cheese about a quarter inch thick.Lay half the bread slices out on the counter or a cutting board. Spread each slice generously with some of the pesto. Top with cheese, dividing the cheese evenly among the bread slices. Sprinkle on salt and freshly ground pepper, then lay the remaining bread slices on top and press down gently with the palm of your hand.Heat a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. While the skillet is getting hot, brush the outside of each sandwich with olive oil. Lay the sandwiches in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side, pressing down occasionally with a spatula to flatten the sandwiches. When the sandwiches are done, remove them to a cutting board, slice them in half on the diagonal, and serve immediately.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 sandwiches


Anonymous said...

I loved your statement that all grandmas should believe in butter! My grandma did, and I do, too! Thanks for a smile.

alison @ Ingredients, Inc. said...

omg this looks amazing!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I'm a grandma who believes in butter with all of her heart and I have never met a grilled cheese sandwich that I didn't like!

This one, however, is going on the lunch rotation!

kristy said...

I like the idea of fresh mozzarella on a grilled cheese sandwich. The bread sounds delicious as well - I'll have to check that out on my next trip to Costco.

megan @ whatmegansmaking said...

add a little tomato and this is the perfect sandwich! :)

Mom on the run said...

I made this for dinner this week, and then had to make it for lunch the next day, and the day after that. Addicting! Thanks for posting! -Sarah

Erika Kerekes said...

Ah, Mom on the Run, that's music to my ears! Glad you liked it. It's absolutely my favorite too.

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