Friday, July 27, 2012

Grilled Cheese with Pesto, Spinach and Avocado

I love sandwiches of all types, and they seem especially suited to summer for some reason.  Maybe because they're easy and don't require long hours in a hot kitchen.  I particularly like unusual sandwiches like this adult version of the classic grilled cheese that has pesto, mozarella, goat cheese, spinach and avocado.  The combination of creamy avocado and melty cheese with the savory pesto and crisp toasted bread is really excellent.  Even the lemon juice used to keep the avocado from browning adds to the overall flavor.

Sandwiches are also a great excuse to eat potato chips, which some of you know I am addicted to.  I have to have a discussion with myself every time I go near a bag of kettle chips to prevent myself from eating the entire thing.  I told that to The Lawyer last night (when we had these sandwiches with chips) and his reply was "you have a lot of discussions with yourself, don't you?"  I'm not sure what that meant, but it's true so I really couldn't take offense.  The advantage of having a discussion with yourself is that you always make sense and you always come to agreement in the end.

Anyway, this sandwich is really simple to make and can be either grilled like a conventional grilled cheese, or toasted up in a panini press. You can use any type of bread that's your favorite, but I've found a multigrain bread works well.  Depending on how ambitious you are, you can make pesto from scratch (especially if you have basil in your garden) or just buy a container at the store.   Serve the sandwiches with some fresh corn or tomatoes or cucumbers from the farmers market and you have a great summer meal.  Notice I didn't say potato chips.  It was a conscious effort.

* * click here for a printable recipe * *

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Pesto, Spinach and Avocado
Serves 4

8 slices of bread (white or whole grain)
1 container refrigerated pesto (or homemade)
8 thin slices mozzarella
4 handfuls baby spinach
1 avocado
Juice of half a lemon
3 oz log goat cheese, crumbled
Olive oil

Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. With a small knife score each avocado half lengthwise into slices and use a large spoon to scoop around the skin to remove all the slices at once. Place in a small bowl and carefully toss with the lemon juice to prevent browning.

Thinly spread pesto on each piece of bread (go easy, pesto has a strong flavor). On half the bread slices, layer one piece of mozzarella, several avocado slices, a little crumbled goat cheese, spinach, and a second slice of mozzarella. Top with a second slice of bread and press together gently.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add one sandwich (or two if your pan is big enough) and fry until golden brown, then flip and cook until the second side is brown. You may want to cover the pan briefly while the sandwich is cooking to ensure all the cheese melts and the sandwich is hot throughout. Alternately, heat a Panini press and grill until the sandwich has nice grill marks and is nicely browned.

Serve immediately.

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