Crisp golden bread stuffed with molten cheese. This description applies to any grilled cheese sandwich, and yet all grilled cheeses are not created equal.
As much as I enjoy a traditional American cheese on white, my taste in grilled cheese has grown up over the years. I prefer a more elevated grilled cheese with high quality cheese, bread, and accouterments.
One of my favorites is Hawaiian grilled cheese stuffed with pineapple, tomatoes, and ham. It’s seriously out of this world! For a meatless option, this Moscone grilled cheese from Grilled Cheese Kitchen is it. Named after the Italian mayor of San Francisco, this grilled cheese has it all.
Garlic butter replaces plain butter for slathering on the exterior of the sandwich, while the insides are stuffed with two Italian cheeses, Fontina Val d’Aosta and fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, Kalamata olive tapenade, and basil-lavender pesto.
You could use store-bought tapenade and pesto, but it won’t be quite the same. Far starters, the basil-lavender pesto omits the nuts and cheese, allowing the herbal flavor to really stand out.
And since a grilled cheese is rich enough as it is, you really don’t miss these ingredients. It’s also much thicker (paste-like) than other oilier pestos, and it swaps out floral lavender for the traditional garlic.
This sandwich would be lovely with heirloom tomato slices, but even just typical plum tomatoes do it justice.
Grilled cheese is definitely not just for kids anymore, and as this popular comfort food becomes even more mainstream, there are so many unique and delicious variations to try!
This Moscone grilled cheese will easily become my go-to basic-but-not-too-basic meatless grilled cheese. You really can’t go wrong with tapenade, pesto, and tomatoes. Yum!
Moscone Grilled Cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salted butter at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 slices rustic artisan bread such as levain, sourdough, or white
- 1 tablespoon Kalamata Tapenade (recipe follows)
- 1 teaspoon Basil-Lavender Pesto (recipe follows)
- 2 slices Italian-style Fontina cheese (preferably Fontina Val d’Aosta)
- 2 or 3 slices ripe plum tomato (about 1/4-inch thick)
- 1 ounce (30 g) fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- Heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.
- In a small bowl, stir together the butter and garlic powder until well blended.
- Spread the garlic butter on one side of each bread slice, dividing it evenly. Place both slices, buttered-side down, on a clean cutting board. Spread the tapenade on one slice and the pesto on the other. Layer the fontina, tomato slices, and mozzarella on top of the tapenade. Finish with the pesto bread, buttered-side up.
- Using a wide spatula, place the sandwich in the pan, cover, and cook until the bottom is nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook until the second side is browned and the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes longer.
- Cut the sandwich in half, if desired, and serve immediately.
Notes & Nutrition
- 1 cup (140 g) pitted Kalamata olives drained
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons capers drained
- 3/4 cup (20 g) loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced
- In a food processor, combine the olives, vinegar, garlic, and capers and pulse in 3-second increments until finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and fold in the parsley by hand. (If you don’t have a food processor, mince the olives, garlic, and capers by hand and toss them with the vinegar and parsley in a small bowl.) Pack the tapenade into glass canning jars or plastic containers and cover tightly.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 4 weeks (thaw gently in the refrigerator or at room temperature before using).
Notes & Nutrition
- 2 cups (60 g) packed fresh basil leaves, thick stems removed
- 1 teaspoon food-grade dried lavender buds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a food processor or blender, combine the basil, lavender buds, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula two or three times, until a uniformly textured, easily spreadable paste forms, about 2 minutes. Use immediately, or transfer to a small bowl, place plastic wrap directly on the pesto to prevent browning, and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze in a small airtight container for up to 1 month.