Late summer’s favorite trio – sandwich style!
I’m feeling pretty lucky this week; we’ve still got tomatoes.
Despite these three facts: 1.) It’s been extra cold for September, 2.) we still have not managed to trap our resident ground hog, and 3.) We really are terrible gardeners, a few days ago we discovered a few lone survivors – of the German Queen variety. What to do, what to do? Bingo! Grilled Cheese with Pesto and Heirloom Tomatoes for Meatless Monday.
I know, I know. Cheesy sandwiches are a bit of a cheat for a Meatless Monday dish because frankly, one ounce of cheese contains more saturated fat than an ounce of ground beef, but COME ON, who can resist the power trio of cheese, fresh, ripe tomatoes and basil? Not us! Plus, you can always round out the meal with a fresh green salad or a big bowl of fruit.
Every summer Mr. EN and I make and freeze a lot of pesto. Basil is one of the things that grows prolifically in our C- grade garden so we plant a lot of it. One of the really nice things about this easy recipe is that you don’t have to use homemade pesto; jarred pesto works just fine. Still, if you have homemade pesto or feel compelled to make your own you can find a good recipe at Kitchn: How to Make Perfect Pesto Every Time.
- Choose a good whole grain or multi-grain bread that’s sturdy and can hold up to the juiciness of the tomatoes. Remember – for best nutrition a whole grain e.g. whole wheat, should be listed as the first ingredient on the ingredient list.
- Pat the tomato slices dry – just a bit – before putting them in your sandwich to keep the sandwich from getting too soggy. Sure, you could add the tomato slices after you grill the sandwich but once the cheese melts it’s kinda hard to slip the slices in, plus the combo of cold tomatoes and cheese for me, is not ideal.
- Use any cheese you like that melts well. No reduced-fat cheese! Two slices per sandwich. If you like it cheesier – proceed with caution. Two one-ounce slices provide you with almost 20 grams of saturated fat which is the recommended daily limit. We used Harvarti and Gouda. Other really good melters include: Provolone, Fontina, Gruyère, Colby, Monterey Jack, or Muenster. Soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert also melt well if you remove the rind.
- Use real butter, not cooking spray for best taste. Be judicious and spread butter, lightly on both sides of the bread before grilling.
- Be patient while you’re grilling. Grill over medium heat then, once done and the cheese is melty-good, let your sandwich rest a minute or two on a cooling rack before you dig in…if you can. 🙂
What’s your favorite grilled cheese combo? Send me an email. I’d love to know. 🙂
Peace, love, and good eats; from our Empty Nest to yours.
Mr. EN’s Take On This Dish: “This is amazing, the pesto really makes this really good … and I don’t even like herbs.”
Grilled Cheese with Pesto and Heirloom Tomatoes
Yield 2 sandwiches
- 4 slices bread, whole grain
- 4 slices cheese, any kind that melts well (See Cooking Secrets above)
- 1 heirloom tomato sliced into 6-8 thin slices
- 3 tablespoons prepared pesto (homemade or jarred)
- Optional – a few fresh basil leaves
- Butter, softened to room temperature
- Spread the pesto on two slices of bread.
- On top of the pesto, place the slightly dry tomato slices, the cheese, and if using, a few leaves of fresh basil.
- Place another slice of bread on top. Lightly butter both the top and bottom of each sandwich.
- Grill over medium heat until crispy, golden brown and the cheese is melted.
- Remove sandwiches to a cooling rack and cool a few minutes before serving and eating.