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Pesto Is The Ingredient That Takes Grilled Cheese From Good To Gourmet

Grilled cheese sandwiches split open
Grilled cheese sandwiches split open - George Dolgikh/Shutterstock

When it comes to pasta, pesto is a nice alternative to ubiquitous tomato-based sauces. Typically consisting of garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil, pine nuts, and basil (which is what gives the sauce its signature green color), pesto is bursting with herby, garlicky goodness. Accordingly, breaking pesto from its pasta-encased confines can elevate humble meals to something magical. Take grilled cheese, for instance. While undeniably tasty, some people may find grilled cheese a little one-note on its own. Fortunately, you can easily upgrade your grilled cheese sandwich by incorporating pesto into the mix.

Spreading a bit of pesto on the undersides of the bread will create a far more complex and satisfying flavor than if you were to use cheese alone. In keeping with the Italian theme, pesto goes best with mild yet melty cheeses, such as provolone and mozzarella. And if you don't want to bother with making your own pesto for your grilled cheese, there are plenty of tasty store-bought options, including beloved brands like Rao's and Barilla.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

Tips On Customizing Pesto Grilled Cheese

Focaccia bread with pesto
Focaccia bread with pesto - SnapFocus/Shutterstock

When it comes to uncommon grilled cheese ingredients like pesto, it helps to consider some unexpected bread selections. Crusty Italian bread has all the qualities you need when making a grilled cheese sandwich featuring a smattering of pesto. The bread is thick and dense, which means it will be robust enough to handle the cheese and sauce without falling apart. If you want things to be extra cheesy, consider using focaccia bread instead. Another product of Italy, focaccia typically features added ingredients like cheese, roasted peppers, rosemary, olives, and garlic. While technically a flatbread, focaccia serves as a sturdy foundation for a stacked grilled cheese.

Other worthy additions include sun-dried tomatoes, which pair wonderfully with the flavor of pine nuts, a key ingredient in pesto. Sun-dried tomatoes are also a common accompaniment to pesto-based pasta dishes, so you can rest assured that they'll work well with your grilled cheese. To make the sandwich a bit meatier (literally), consider adding an Italian cured meat. Prosciutto, pancetta, mortadella, and other types of cured meats make a nice addition to the cheese, pesto, and bread combination.

What Should You Serve With Your Gourmet Sandwich?

Roasted potatoes with herbs
Roasted potatoes with herbs - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

If you want to turn your pesto grilled cheese sandwich into a more satisfying meal, roasted potatoes are a perfect accompaniment. Italian-style potatoes are even more fitting, as they feature seasonings that nicely complement the pesto sauce in your sandwich. Along with salt and black pepper, use garlic and rosemary to ramp up the flavor of the potatoes. A drizzling of olive oil is also key for creating a pleasing roasted texture on the spuds, as is your cutting technique. Refrain from cutting potatoes too much to ensure there's plenty of surface area to make contact with the hot pan.

If you're looking for a lighter side dish, a chopped Brussels sprouts salad is an excellent option; and vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, onions, and artichoke hearts offer a bit of texture variety. As for the dressing, combine red wine vinegar and olive oil with Italian seasonings, garlic, Dijon mustard, and other ingredients for the perfect tangy kick. You can also add some briny goodness via olives or pepperoncini, which is a type of pickled chili pepper that offers a hint of heat with just the right touch of sweetness. With such delectable pairings, your pesto-enhanced grilled cheese will be even more satisfying.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.