Moscone Grilled Cheese

May 31, 2017 (Last Updated: April 30, 2020)
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an overhead view of a halved grilled cheese with tomatoes and olive tapenade inside

Crisp golden bread stuffed with molten cheese. This description applies to any grilled cheese sandwich, and yet all grilled cheeses are not created equal.

closeup of a halved grilled cheese with tomatoes, olive tapenade, and pesto

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.

assembling a sandwich with sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, and pesto

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.

a side view of a grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes and olive tapenade

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.

stacked sandwich halves with melted cheese, tomato, and olive tapenade

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.

a closeup of a half eaten sandwich with pesto and tomatoes inside

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.

A close up of a half eaten grilled cheese with pesto inside

This sandwich would be lovely with heirloom tomato slices, but even just typical plum tomatoes do it justice.

A close up of a half eaten grilled cheese with tomatoes and pesto inside

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!

stacked grilled cheese sandwich halves with olive tapenade and sliced tomatoes

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!

A close up of a grilled cheese sandwich with olive tapenade
Moscone grilled cheese

Moscone Grilled Cheese

Victoria
A gooey vegetarian grilled cheese sandwich perfect for summer with fresh tomatoes, basil-lavender pesto, and olive tapenade.
Prep Time 7 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Sandwich
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 1 sandwich
Calories 740 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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

You may use store-bought olive tapenade and pesto if you prefer.
Adapted from Grilled Cheese Kitchen
Servings 1.0 * calories 740 * Total Fat 44 g * Saturated Fat 24 g * Monounsaturated Fat 11 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 127 mg * Sodium 1462 mg * Potassium 515 mg * Total Carbohydrate 57 g * Dietary Fiber 5 g * Sugars 6 g * Protein 30 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*
A close up of a cross section of a grilled cheese with kalamata tapenade

Kalamata Tapenade

Victoria
This simple garlicky olive tapenade is the perfect spread for sandwiches.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Condiments
Cuisine French, Mediterranean
Servings 1 cup
Calories 70 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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

Adapted from Grilled Cheese Kitchen
Servings 16.0 * calories 70 * Total Fat 7 g * Saturated Fat 0 g * Monounsaturated Fat 0 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 0 mg * Sodium 405 mg * Potassium 18 mg * Total Carbohydrate 1 g * Dietary Fiber 0 g * Sugars 0 g * Protein 0 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*
A close up of a half eaten sandwich with pesto inside

Basil-Lavender Pesto

Victoria
This twist on classic basil pesto includes fragrant, floral lavender.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Condiments, Sauces
Cuisine Italian
Servings 5 tablespoons
Calories 39 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes & Nutrition

Adapted from Grilled Cheese Kitchen
Servings 5.0 * calories 39 * Total Fat 4 g * Saturated Fat 1 g * Monounsaturated Fat 3 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 0 mg * Sodium 225 mg * Potassium 37 mg * Total Carbohydrate 0 g * Dietary Fiber 0 g * Sugars 0 g * Protein 0 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*

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