Aug 21, 2010

First take: Pesto-crusted Grilled Cheese

I found a recipe for pesto-crusted grilled cheese online (see below).  Emily helped me make the sandwiches and we altered the recipe a little from the original, though we stuck to suggestions offered up by the originator (explained soon).  I think in the future, I may try adding something different to the layer between the cheeses.  We'll see.

The recipe *we* followed goes like this:

Prep: 15 min., Cook: 6 min. per batch.

Yield: Makes 4 servings


1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons jarred pesto sauce
8 sourdough bread slices
8 small/medium provalone cheese slices
3 tablespoons roasted red bell peppers, drained, chopped and dabbed with paper towel
8 small/medium Cheddar cheese slices

1. Stir together mayonnaise and pesto sauce. Spread evenly on 1 side of each sourdough bread slice. Place 4 of the bread slices, pesto sides down, on wax paper.

2. Layer 4 bread slices on wax paper each with 2 provalone cheese slices (side-by-side to cover bread slice), bell peppers, and 2 Cheddar cheese slices (again, side-by-side to cover full bread slice); top with remaining 4 bread slices, pesto sides up.

3. Cook sandwiches, in batches, on a hot griddle or in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, gently pressing with a spatula, 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese melts.  NOTE: Our griddle has actual temps. I used 300-degrees F.  I should have used the "normal" setting for sandwiches (350-degrees F).  I think they would have been more "crusted" that way.

Emily helped me mix the pesto and mayo.  Then she scooped out about a tablespoon or so of the mix onto the bread. I used a rubber spatula to evenly spread the mixture.  I spread it all the way to the edges.  We are *not* big fans of peppers, which is why we cut the recipe down from a full 12 oz jar to a few tablespoons.  Believe me, it was plenty (for us) to spread around on each sandwich. 

When cooking, the first three minutes allows time for some cleanup, rinsing cups/bowls used for mixing, etc.  Then, flip them at the 3-minute mark and finish the cleanup of everything but the griddle.  Makes life easy-peasy!  I think the original recipe makes two sandwiches at a time, because it called for 12 minutes of cook time (6 per "batch").  Ours was big enough to hold all four sandwiches.

This was my first time to try something like this, and being the GUY that I am, I opted to do a flavored-up grilled cheese. Go figure, right?  Well, I have to say (and Shan agrees!) these were GREAT!  Oh man, just smelling the pesto cooking on the griddle and watching the cheese melt... But, to put that bite into your mouth... Oh, I gotta tell ya... You get the wonderful taste of the pesto with a hint of the mayo flavor. Then, this melty, cheesy goodness like in a commercial - the cheese really does "string-out" when you take a bite!  Since we use just a few peppers, it made for a nice little "zing" in every other bite or so that just made me want to keep eating.

I like to have some CRUNCH with mine, so I added ridged potato chips.  Shan just ate hers the way they came off the griddle. Well, okay, I sliced each sandwich in half.

These were SUPER creations, and I cannot thank Melissa Q enough for sharing this on!  I ended up eating an additional half sandwich (Emily decided she wasn't too hip on eating them, just making them) and for me, that was about 1/4 a sandwich too much.  So, eat just one and leave yourself wanting to make it again another time!  This would be a great cold weather treat with some soup along side, too!
Melissa Quiñones, Eustis, Florida, Southern Living, JANUARY 2007

The original recipe resides here:

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