Italian Pesto and Marinated Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwich
A comfort food classic grilled cheese recipe with an Italian spin, made with balsamic marinated tomatoes, roasted red pepper pesto, and Italian cheeses.
This is NOT an award-winning grilled cheese recipe, my friends. Alas! But it IS a pretty DANG tasty grilled cheese and we’re proud to include it on the web site. Talk about comfort food. Grilled cheese is on the uber comfort foods, in a class all by itself. SO. DANG. GOOD.
We learned there was a grilled cheese recipe contest and we set about to creating something unique, something fun and tasty, and in the end, something that we really wanted to eat. I suppose I could have gone the superhot route, incorporated ghost peppers or something hotter — 7 Pots anyone? — but we settled on an Italian themed grilled cheese and hit the kitchen running. We weren’t sure how it was going to turn out, but seriously? Cheese, Pesto, and balsamic marinated tomatoes? Um…YEAH! Can you even possibly go wrong? Turned out AWESOME.
First, you need to get the tomatoes marinating in the mixture of balsamic vinegar, oil, salt and garlic. Let them go a while.
Next, make your pesto. We could have made a more traditional pesto, but this Roasted Red Pepper Pesto is phenomenal. The roasted red bells bring it a whole new plane of existence. Give it a go.
From there, it is the simple process of constructing your grilled cheese sandwich as you would normally do and grill it up to your liking. It’s all about the layering and the buttering on the bread. You want to make sure all the cheesy awesomeness gets nice and drippy-gooey on the inside, so gooey it threatens to fall out, but not quite getting there.
When you pull the grilled cheese sandwich apart, the cheese will hang out in strings, so soft, so crazy-perfect. As we said, comfort food extraordinaire.
Sorry to say we didn’t win the contest with this Italian grilled cheese recipe, but we DID score big in our own kitchen. This recipe is going into our favorites. We love it, and that’s all the truly matters. WIN!
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 large tomatoes sliced
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 small red bell pepper roasted and peeled
- 12 basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons lightly toasted hazelnuts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 slices thick Italian bread
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2-3 slices Havarti cheese
- 2-3 slices Fontina cheese
Create a marinade by combining ½ cup vinegar, ¼ cup oil, salt and garlic in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Add tomatoes and marinate at least 30 minutes.
Form your pesto by combining Parmesan cheese, roasted pepper, basil, hazelnuts and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a blender or food processor. Pulse to form a thick pesto-paste. Set aside.
Heat a large pan to medium heat.
Butter the outer sides of the Italian bread and layer the insides with marinated tomatoes, thick pesto, and cheeses.
Set into the hot pan and cook about 3-4 minutes per side, or until the bread is nicely browned and the cheeses begin to melt.