Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gourmet Grilled Cheese with Arugula Pesto

It's not often that Gavin and I find ourselves at home for lunch on a weekend. We are usually out somewhere together, or  one of us is busy doing something or another. Although I cook most of our dinners, and occasionally a breakfast, for us to enjoy together, I don't often do much for lunch. Lunch is the perfect time to enjoy those leftovers from whatever we have had at recent dinners. But this weekend, with temperatures too cold for the lake and no wedding to plan, we have found ourselves at home with nothing pressing on the agenda. It's a wonderful feeling to have a whole day stretch in front of you, with nothing that absolutely must be done. These moments are few and far between and definitely deserve to be savored.

So in honor of our lazy Saturday afternoon, I decided to see what I could do to put together a lunch worthy of the day. Something warm to compliment the cool fall air but also something that I could make from what I had on hand. With half a container of baby arugula, I decided to make a pesto using the arugula and some walnuts I had left over from some pumpkin muffins I made earlier in the week. I also had some delicious smoked Gouda that I knew would make a simple grilled cheese sandwich taste special. There's something so comforting about grilled cheese sandwiches. The warm, gooey cheese in between crispy toasted bread. It's pretty much the perfect sandwich. And, even though I love a plain grilled cheese with cheddar, it's fun to mix it up and add other ingredients to make it more "gourmet."
This sandwich, with smoked Gouda and arugula pesto, has all the comforting aspects of a great grilled cheese but is just fancy enough to taste special. The arugula pesto would also work well tossed with pasta or spread on pizza, so make extra and use it again for another meal. And if you aren't lucky enough to have a free Saturday afternoon to enjoy lunch with your hubby (or anyone else for that matter), then feel free to make a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner, or breakfast, or a snack, whenever really, just as long as you get to enjoy this delicious comfort food.

Arugula Pesto
  • 4-5 cups arugula, loosely packed
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Puree arugula, walnuts and Parmesan cheese until they come together and are chopped fine.
Stream in olive oil slowly, incorporating enough to make a thick paste.
Season with salt and pepper.

Grilled Cheese (serves 2)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 4 slices of bread, your favorite variety
  • 2 tbsp arugula pesto
  • 6-8 thin slices of smoked Gouda
Heat olive oil or butter in a saute pan over medium to medium low heat.
Spread 1/2 tablespoon on each slice of bread.
Layer enough cheese to cover one half of each sandwich.
Grill in hot pan till both sides are brown and cheese is melted.
Or you could always use a panini press if you happen to have one.
Eat and enjoy!

For a printable recipe click here

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