Putting the Pesto to Work

September 16, 2008

You might be wondering what I did with yesterday‘s sage-and-walnut pesto. While it was arguably good enough to eat by the spoonful, I did not do that, you will probably be relieved to know. Instead, I used it to perk up a grilled cheese sandwich of sorts, which was just about the only thing I wanted to eat on Sunday, after two whirlwind, wedding-hubbub-filled days, one of which was apparently the rainiest in Chicago history. And we all know that a grilled cheese sandwich on a rainy day is truly one of life’s kindest treasures.

But it wasn’t just any grilled cheese, I’ll have you know. It had the standard bread-and-cheese components, sure, but even those were dialed up a notch from yesteryear’s slices of Wonder Bread and American cheese: I used a hearty multi-grain loaf and whisper-thin slices of Swiss cheese. And I continued to gussy up the once-humble sandwich by liberally slathering the slices of bread with the sage pesto I whizzed up earlier that day and by scattering some shredded roast chicken leftover from the other night (which just so happened to have been roasted with several sage leaves slipped under its skin).  The end result was perfectly gooey and pure comfort.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

This sandwich, though, is hardly the end of the road for this pesto—the options are endless. I am currently envisioning it serving as a little something extra in this savory galette (which I am lucky enough to be eating tonight!), lightly saucing pasta or gnocchi, stirred into a butternut squash risotto (as Robin suggested yesterday), accompanying a piece of grilled or roasted pork (as Amy imagined yesterday) or chicken, tucked into the fold of a fluffy omelet, spooned atop a bowl of vegetable soup, and, and, and …

And, well, at this point, it’s looking like I’m going to need to make another batch of this pesto. Any other ideas to add to the mix?

Roast Chicken & Sage Pesto Panini

Serves: 2

4 thin slices multi-grain bread
2 tablespoons sage-and-walnut pesto
2 to 3 ounces Swiss cheese, sliced
1/2 cup roast chicken, shredded
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

Preheat a grill pan or panini press to medium heat.

Spread 1/4 of the pesto on one side of each slice of bread. Top the pestoed-side of each slice of bread with 1/4 of the Swiss cheese. Top two of the pestoed-and-Swissed slices with 1/2 of the shredded chicken and the sliced onions. Cover the pestoed-Swissed-chickened-and-onioned slices with the two remaining pestoed slices of bread, pressing gently to close the sandwiches.

Grill the sandwiches for four minutes per side (rotating 90 degrees halfway through each side’s grill to get criss-cross grill marks), or until the cheese has melted and the bread has toasted.


10 Responses to “Putting the Pesto to Work”

  1. eggsonsunday Says:

    I’m with you – grilled cheese is one of the perfect foods to eat on a rainy day. When I was young, I used to call swiss cheese “stinky cheese,” but I have come to appreciate (and even like) it as I’ve grown older. 🙂 What a delicious sandwich! -Amy

  2. pricklypearbloom Says:

    yum. I’m not usually a grilled cheese person, but when good bread and interesting cheese and other fun adornments are employed, I like them alot!

  3. Whitney Says:

    Just looking at that sandwich made my stomach growl…at 10AM! Where is that bread from? It looks amazing.

    I think I need to make up some pesto this week. Have you had any luck freezing it?

  4. This looks so good. I have a great abundance of sage in my garden and never thought to make pesto with it. I often make pesto with my basil and use almonds. I’m definately going to try it. The sandwich looks yummy. Thanks for sharing.


  5. Monica h Says:

    This would be yummy on whole grain bread with mozzarella and tomatoes- mmmmm!

  6. Amy: I’ve always been a Swiss cheese lover. It was just the “hole-y” cheese to me.

    pricklypearbloom: Agreed.

    Whitney: I think it would freeze well. I might add a squeeze of lemon juice first, in an effort to keep the color. Also — the bread is La Briola and I get it at Olivia’s Market, but it’s available at a handful of stores in the city and at Farmers’ Markets.

    The Topiary Lady: If you’re like me, you might be growing just a little bit tired of basil pesto (I know, it’s a crime to admit). So sage was a good way to change it up.

    Monica h: Yes, please.

  7. mimi Says:

    gorgeous! i would never refuse a grilled cheese sammich but i love the addition of red onions and pesto.

  8. Cheeky Says:

    Wow! This looks heavenly! I’ve always loved the classic grilled cheese toast-sandwiches and this looks like a fabulous twist – sage pesto and onions – and I’ll probably end up with slices of tomato too; delicious! And I must comment on the lovely bread!

  9. Cheeky: Thanks! Tomatoes would be good — and, now that you mention it, sun-dried tomatoes in particular would be fantastic with these flavors, I bet. About the bread: not sure where you’re located, but if you’re near Chicago, see my link above (to Whitney) about the maker.

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