Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

This is my version of an upscale grilled cheese or even a caprese salad between bread. No matter what the name is, you will call it yummy. Personally, I think the pesto is the thing that puts this sandwich “over the top.” Pair with homemade tomato soup and you’ve got one delicious meal.

Mozzarella Grilled Cheese
Yields 2 sandwiches

4 slices thick-cut sourdough bread
1 ball (1 pound) fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼ -inch slices
2 plum tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 cup fresh basil pesto, recipe follows
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Basil pesto:
½ cup pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
½ cup Parmesan or Romano
2 garlic cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

To make pesto: Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Combine pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined but still rough-textured.

If you have a panini press, turn it on to warm up; otherwise, set a cast iron skillet over medium heat.

Assemble sandwich by smearing insides of bread slices with pesto. Arrange a layer of sliced tomato and season with a few turns of fresh pepper. Layer the mozzarella slices over the top and then place another piece of bread on top to make the sandwich. Drizzle olive oil over skillet's surface and place sandwiches on the hot skillet or panini press. If using a skillet, place another heavy skillet over the top to form a "press". Turn after 2 to 3 minutes and replace weight. The sandwich is ready when golden brown and mozzarella has melted around the edges.

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