Oozing melted cheese, homemade Spinach Pesto and fresh slices of Tomato in a crunchy and cheesy thick slice of bread. Say hello to Tomato and Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese.
Grilled cheese is probably one of my comfort food, that on top of my usual sweet desserts. There’s something about the melted cheese that made me want more, I wouldn’t say it’s addicting but it’s absolutely satisfying. It’s one of those food that made me feel great and satisfied after eating it. This Tomato and Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese is a vegetarian version, but with the fresh sweet tomato and basil and loan of cheese Of course, I did not even miss the meat.
What’s a perfect Grilled Cheese?
- Melting cheese when you cut it: grilled cheese will not pass as a perfect grilled cheese if the cheese doesn’t melt when you cut it. Why so? Because the first and foremost trademark of a grilled cheese is the melting cheese, and if you cannot make this happen, then forget calling it a grilled cheese. There are few reasons why this could happen. 1.) the bread is too thick for the heat to reach the cheese even before the outside of the bread starts browning. Lesson here, use just the right amount of thickness, the thickness of the off the shelf bread is about the right thickness. So if you are using your own homemade bread, have that in mind when you slice it. 2.) there’s no enough cheese – don’t be stingy, put generous amount of cheese 3.) You are using the wrong kind of cheese.
- A perfect grilled cheese have a nice crunchy toasted texture, nicely browned, nice crunchy exterior and soft melting cheese inside. The secret to a crunchy bread, generous spread of butter on the bread or mayonnaise will work too. Brush the one side of the bread with butter and when you grill it, make sure the buttered side is facing down. If you want to make it even crunchy and cheesy, sprinkle some grated cheese after spreading butter on one side of each bread, then cook until the cheesy is fully melted and the bread is crunchy.
- A perfect grilled cheese is tasty even if it is just bread, cheese and butter. This boils down to using quality and the right type of cheese, because not all cheese are created equal when it comes to using it for grilled cheese.
What is the perfect cheese for grilled cheese?
This is always debatable as different people have difference preference when it comes to cheese and what type of cheese is available in the area, but regardless of which brand you pick, make sure you are using a good quality cheese. You do not have to restrict yourself to only one kind of cheese, You can mix 2 types of cheese for even greater flavor. here are some of the common cheese used for grilled cheese
- American Cheese – Kraft singles? Velveeta? Sounds familiar? This is a common got to cheese for most people as it is budget friendly and it does melt really well. In my case though, I don’t normally use this as I find it lacking in taste and flavor and melts like plastic.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese – This is the cheese commonly used in restaurant grilled cheese. Nice taste, melts good and easy to find.
- Swiss Cheese – Mild flavor and firm (and stretchy) texture are perfect for melting, easy to find.
- Provolone Cheese – Flavorful but not to sharp, melts just right without being too runny.
- Pepper Jack Cheese – If you are looking for a flavorful cheese that would give you a step up in your grilled cheese, try Pepper Jack. It is one flavorful cheese.
Youc an also mix and match cheese. Use a second cheese that have strong flavor, it doesn’t have to be something that melts easily. These are the like of
- Blue Cheese or Feta Cheese
- Goat Cheese
- Havarti Cheese
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to produce amazing grilled cheese that is to die for (figuratively speaking of course). Just remember these tips and maybe spend few extra penny for a nice cheese and you’ll be assured to make a grilled cheese worth remembering.
Grilled cheese is a very simple dish but there are few key things that you should remember to get the nice crunchy texture of the bread and a nice doze of melting cheese. Keep these in mind and you will surely end up with a mouth-watering grilled cheese on your plate.
Tips for a Successful Grilled Cheese
- Use Butter or Mayonnaise – Fat. You need to use fat to grease the bread. What makes the grilled cheese great aside from the cheese itself is the crunchy and buttery crisp bread and this is achieved by spreading some fat to the bread before laying it down on the pan. Spread enough fat to cover the entire outside of bread, more or less 2 tsp but not too much that you will feel like gross out with all the oil coming out from it when you eat it.
- Thick Sliced Bread, is a NO – It’s tempting because it looks good to use a thick slice bread but that is a definite No, No. If the bread is sliced too thick, it will take long time for the heat to penetrate the center of the bread. The bread could end up already too crunchy or possibly burnt, but the cheese is not yet melted. I would say go for the regular thickness of bread that you usually see in grocery. If you are having them sliced, request it to be regular not thick.
- Right Cheese – Right kind of cheese, right thickness of cheese and right amount of cheese. These 3 are key to having a nice grilled cheese. If you are cutting the cheese to slices, cut as thin as possible so that it melts easily. Now the amount, it has to be the right amount of cheese, you don’t want a puddle of cheese oozing out and spreading in the pan. It is a grilled cheese we already know that, but you don’t have to go over board to prove its a grilled cheese. Depending on the size of your bread, I would say about 1/3 cup – 1/2 cup or 4 thinly slices of cheese.
- Low – Medium Heat – Patience, don’t go bumping up your heat to high to melt the cheese fast. You want an even cooking inside and out, and low to medium heat is the key to this. You can also cover the pan with a lid to create steam to help the cheese melts, once melted remove the lid and continue cooking.
There you go, 4 tips to remember and your on your way to the BEST grilled cheese ever. Regardless of what variation you are making, these tips comes handy to achieving the crisp and nice melting grilled cheese. Let’s put it to use!
- 1 tbsp Pesto (Homemade or Store-Bough)
- 2 slices of Tomato
- 4 tsp butter
- 2 slices of bread – I used my Homemade Whole Wheat Slice Bread.
- 2 thin slices Cheddar Cheese (or any melting cheese you have)
- 1/3 cup mazzarella cheese (I’m using quite a large bread, for regular size slice bread use 1/3 -1/2 cup or 3-4 slices of cheese)
1. Make the Pesto: Get FULL RECIPE HERE. You can also use store-bought Pesto.
2. Butter up: Spread 2 tsp of butter or mayonnaise in one side of each bread. The side of the bread with butter will be facing down when you put it in the pan.
3. Cheese Please: Spread Pesto on the non buttered side of the bread, arrange sliced cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese then add sliced tomato. Cover with another bread, the side with the butter should be facing out. You should now have a sandwich bread where the outside has been buttered.
4. Optional: To have a crunchy cheese coating on top of the bread, sprinkle 1 tbsp shredded cheese on the side of the bread with butter on it. Do this for each side of the bread. Press the cheese with your fingers so that cheese will stick to the butter. It will create a nice crispy cheese crust once the cheese melts, so good!
5. Grill or Cook: Transfer the bread in a medium heated pan or griddle, buttered side of the bread facing down and cook each side for 5 – 7 minutes or until the outside of the bread is crunchy.
6. Serve: Slice and serve while hot and melting. Serve with a side of salad or try my Tomato Soup for a perfect combo.
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