I grew up in your typical American household, with your typical American diet (a child of the 70s/80s). Frozen dinners? Yep. Processed food (including processed cheese)? Yep. Fluffy white bread? Yep, plenty of that as well, not to mention marshmallow fluff, Swanson TV dinners, and various Entenmann’s products.
Instead of the grilled cheese of my youth, I’ve sought to create an ‘elevated’ (for lack of a better term) grilled cheese — let’s call it a grilled cheese for the grown ups. I’ve ditched the American cheese and Wonder bread (is that still around?), and replaced them with local, artisanal ingredients — crusty bread and delicious, stinky cheese.
First, you’ll need good bread, the foundation of any sandwich. I used a levain from my favorite new bakery Bread Furst. As for the fromage, used a local Virginia cheese (Grayson Meadow Creek) and Tallegio. You’ll want a soft cheese that melts well (along the lines of Gruyere, Fontina, Asiago, etc.).
Slice the bread. Butter (generously) the outsides of the bread. Spread a layer of pesto (this is a kale pesto) on the inside…
Be generous with the cheese. Sometimes you just need to indulge.
Top with a couple slices of beautiful, local, heirloom tomato..
This is where I strayed from convention — added sliced avocado…
And, prosciutto — because I can’t resist prosciutto…
Slice in half. Share with someone you love — if you’re feeling generous — or savor it all yourself 🙂
A Grilled Cheese for the Grown Ups
Bread (crusty bread such as Levain)
Soft cheese (such as Tallegio,Gruyere, Fontina, Asiago)
Kale pesto (recipe below)
Heirloom tomatoes, sliced
Avocado, thinly sliced
Butter the outsides of the bread. Spread the pesto on the inside. Layer on the cheese, tomatoes, avocado, and prosciutto.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add a pat of butter. When the butter has melted, add the sandwich and press down with a spatula. Cook until golden brown on the bottom. Flip, and continue cooking until the other side is golden brown and the cheese is melted and gooey.
2 cups kale, stems removed, torn into pieces
1 cup fresh basil
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup nuts (such, as almonds, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra to cover the finished pesto
squeeze of lemon juice to taste
Place the kale, basil, garlic, and nuts in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper. With the motor running, add the olive oil slowly in a steady stream. Add a squeeze of lemon. Taste and season accordingly. Place the pesto in a jar. Cover with a little extra olive oil.