Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

Tonight's grilled cheese was meant to be quick because we were supposed to babysit for a friend, but that got canceled so I added a side dish (Crash Hot Potatoes) and took my time with these sandwiches.

I used premade pesto because I killed my basil plant - no surprise there, I never keep plants alive. Trader Joe's makes a good pesto. We used our Griddler's panini function to make the sandwiches perfectly toasty. I only put tomatoes on mine because he doesn't like tomatoes, though I forced him to take a bite of my sandwich and he agreed it "wasn't bad." I loved mine. He loved his tomato-less one because he said it reminded him of the fried mozzarella at Macaroni Grill, which has pesto under the breading. So this is a make-again since we were both very happy.


Mozzarella Grilled Cheese
Tyler's Ultimate (Tyler Florence) on the Food Network

4 slices thick-cut sourdough bread
1 ball (1 pound) fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-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:
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 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.

Yield: 2 sandwiches

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