Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

I was wracking my brain trying to think of something to make for dinner last night when I received a text from an angel! It was actually a text from my friend, Laura (no relation). It said “Happy National Grilled Cheese Day!”, and I said “Problem solved”. I think it is probably one of the best things ever that there is a national holiday set aside for pretty much every type of food you can imagine. I am pretty sure that not a single day of the year has been left out, and some foods even have to share days. We are a people that is obsessed with food, and I am probably more so than a lot of others. I genuinely sit in class every day thinking about food. That makes me sound ridiculous, but there is nothing that I enjoy more than cooking and baking. I go to the grocery store so often that the people in HEB know me and ask when I am going to be making for my blog (I shamelessly promote my blog everywhere I go).

Regular ol’ grilled cheese is one of my favourite comfort foods, but I decided to go with a dressed up recipe for National Grilled Cheese Day so I could write about it. I found this recipe for Mozzerella grilled cheese from Tyler Florence on the Food Network website, and it had really great reviews. I realized belatedly that the recipe calls for 2 cups of basil leaves, and I definitely only bought one of those teensy packages that has like 10 leaves. I ended up having to cut the amount of pesto in the recipe way down, but I had plenty for two sandwiches. I actually didn’t measure anything for the pesto and just blended ingredients until it tasted good. It’s a very scientific method that is not for everyone. I am really happy with how this sandwich turned out, and I am definitely adding it to my permanent recipe book. There is nothing more delicious than a sandwich with melted Mozzarella and pesto.
Mozzarella Grilled Cheese
4 slices thick-cut sourdough bread
1 ball (1 lb) fresh Mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I actually bought Mozzarella medallions that were already sliced and were slightly cheaper than buying a ball of it for whatever reason)
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

If you have a panini press, turn it on to warm up; otherwise, set a cast iron skillet over medium heat (I used a grill pan so I would still get the panini lines). 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.
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
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil

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.
I love recipes that use a food processor because you don’t have to bother chopping anything up by hand. You just throw it all in and voila!

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