Sweet dreams are made of cheese. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and tomato soup always reminded me of being a kid. When I was recently tasked with making my 3 year old niece a meal that she would eat using only what I had around the house, grilled cheese sandwiches saved the day. The look on her face was nothing short of amazement. All I could say was "I know, right?!" in between bites. It was a brief moment where I was, in her eyes, the greatest cook of all time. Then she discovered chicken nuggets and well, that was the end of that. Kids these days, amirite?
Easy Peasy Pesto Grilled Cheesy | Photo by Natalie Goldfinger @sheinspiresme
I have yet to meet someone who didn't like Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Even my dairy-free friends have their own go-to versions. Cheese for everyone! What a time to be alive!
So while, I wasn't looking to reinvent the (cheese) wheel, I did want to create a more sumptuous version that took an already amazing sandwich to the next level. Pesto, cheddar, arugula and a side Spinach Salad with Tahini Dressing was where my taste buds led me. A grown up grilled cheese too fancy for the kids menu. Enjoy!
Pesto Grilled Cheese + Spinach Salad with Tahini Dressing | Photo by Natalie Goldfinger @sheinspiresme
Pesto Grilled Cheese and Spinach Salad with Tahini Dressing
by Michelle Goldfinger @michellegoldfingereats
Yield: 1 portion
artisanal bread, cut into thin slices
pesto sauce (see recipe bellow)
50 g cheddar cheese, shredded
large handful of arugula
Make pesto sauce, see recipe bellow.
Lay two pieces of bread on a flat surface and add a healthy layer of pesto sauce on the inside of each piece of bread.
Add the grated cheddar cheese on top of the pesto on one piece of bread.
Add the large handful of arugula on top of the cheese.
Close the sandwich with the other piece of bread.
Grill on a panini press or George Foreman until the cheese has melted and the bread has grill marks. (Or if using a stovetop: butter the outer sides of each slice bread (the sides of the bread without the pesto), do this as the first step. On medium heat, grill the sandwich on each side until the cheese is melted and the bread is nicely browned).
Pesto Sauce Recipe
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can sub half the basil leaves with baby spinach)
1/2 cup Romano or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, grated
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts (can sub chopped walnuts)
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the basil leaves and pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times.
Add the garlic and Parmesan or Romano cheese and pulse several times more. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.
While the food processor is running, SLOWLY add the olive oil in a steady small stream. (Adding the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, will help it emulsify and help keep the olive oil from separating). Occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor.
Add salt and black pepper to taste
Spinach Salad with Tahini Dressing
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 an onion, thinly sliced
1/2 a tomato, cut into 6 pieces
5 mushrooms, thinly sliced
10 black olives, pitted and cut into small pieces
20g feta, broken up by hand
2 Tbsp tahini dressing (see recipe bellow)
Make tahini dressing, see recipe bellow.
In a frying pan, sauté onions with olive oil on medium heat.
Once onions are soft add mushrooms and cook for 2-3minutes.
Remove mushrooms and onions and let cool.
Add tomatoes to frying pan and sauté on medium heat. Be sure to brown both sides of each tomato (about 5 minutes).
In a bowl add spinach, mushroom and onion mixture, tomato, black olives and feta (in that order).
Pour tahini dressing on top of salad and enjoy!
1 Tbsp tahini
1/4 cup water
juice from 1/2 a lemon
pinch of salt
2 springs of dill
(Note: this makes enough for 1-2 salads, multiply the recipe to make more. The tahini dressing tastes great with pretty much any salad and will last for about a week in the fridge).
Sweet Dreams are Made of Cheese | Photo by Natalie Goldfinger @sheinspiresme
Did you try this recipe? Let us know in the comments!