Sorry not sorry.
That’s really all I can say about this sandwich.
Crispy, buttery goodness. Gooey filling. Delicious vegetal bitterness, first from the baby swiss cheese, then from the hand ground spinach-almond-olive oil pesto. And just the right amount of salt.
This sandwich is not a health food.
I recently caught myself saying to a friend, “Most of the things I cook are pretty healthy. Well, except for the stuff I make for the blog, of course.” And while I regretted for a moment that this blog wasn’t a space exclusively for healthy food— an instagram-perfect fruit salad or the kind of kale and quinoa dishes that are good for your heart— I quickly got over it.
It’s ridiculous to believe that we can live off grilled cheese alone (impossible, I’ve tried it), and of course the healthier the food the better for our bodies. Ninety percent of my diet is not this. It’s mostly whole grains and veggies and proteins. But I also believe that food should also be celebrated— celebratory, lavish, extravagant, unapologetic, and just crazy at times.
Not all the time. But sometimes.
Look at this:
It is so over-the-top.
This sandwich begins with pesto, hand ground for one in a mortar and pestle. You could certainly double or triple the recipe and make it in a small food processor.
Spinach, garlic, almonds, and a little olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
I also used a whole clove of garlic here, but would go for far less when making this pesto again.
And this is what it looks like all ground up. No need for it to be perfect. We’re going for rustic here, not the pre-packaged bottles of pesto you might find in a grocery store.
I drizzled in a little black truffle oil, just for fun.
Make no mistake, the $4 bottle from Trader Joe’s is definitely not extracted from real truffles. I like the flavor of this stuff, so I use it anyway. If you want the real deal, try a truffle salt instead.
Or, just stick with plain olive oil. Also tasty.
Everyone has their own secret to a perfect grilled cheese, and this is mine: Always toast the inside of your bread, too.
I toast mine in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, in a little bit of melted butter.
Spread with pesto.
And fill up with cheese. Shredded, sliced, cut into small chunks– it all works here.
Toast on both sides in a pan of melted butter, and you get this.
I’m a sucker for the crispy-buttery-salty goodness that is the outside of any proper grilled cheese sandwich.
Slice in half for a pop of color.
Just try and tell me that this isn’t the best lunch ever.
Baby Swiss Grilled Cheese with Spinach Almond Pesto
- 1 large handful of baby spinach
- 1/4-1/2 clove of garlic
- 5-6 raw almonds
- olive oil
- 2 slices bread
- 2 ounces sliced or shredded baby swiss cheese
- 1-2 tablespoons spinach almond pesto
- 1 tablespoon butter
- In a mortar and pestle, grind together the spinach, garlic, almonds, and a small amount of olive oil to form a paste. Add more olive oil as necessary to achieve a spreadable consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Start by melting a half tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. Place the two slices of bread in the skillet, toasting one side until golden brown.
- Remove the slices to a plate, and spread the toasted side of one slice with the pesto. Layer with the sliced or shredded cheese. Top with the second slice of bread, toasted side down.
- Melt another half tablespoon of butter in the skillet and toast the sandwich until golden brown, flipping halfway to ensure even toasting on both sides. Check to make sure cheese is melted, and continue to hold the sandwich over low heat until it is.
Grinding the pesto in a mortar and pestle takes a lot of physical work. An easier solution might be to make a larger batch of pesto in a small food processor, and save the excess to use with other sandwiches and pastas.
Pesto can be kept for 2-3 days in a small jar in the fridge.