Welcome to pure unadulterated cheesiness. Pure unadulterated deliciousness. Pure unadulterated awesomeness. I’m realizing I actually have no idea what “adulterated” means. I hope it doesn’t mean gross, because now I’m committed.
Here, my friends, I offer you an Artichoke Arugula Pesto Grilled Cheese. Pure unadulterated, um, lunch.
I love a good grilled cheese. Which, incidentally, I typically don’t call “grilled cheese.” In our house, it’s called toasted cheese, but when in Rome … or when writing a food blog … you do as the Romans/bloggers do. And pretty much everyone else. So “grilled cheese” it is. At least in print.
This Artichoke Arugula Pesto Grilled Cheese was inspired by an incredible sandwich that I’ve enjoyed for years at one of my favorite restaurants. It’s a smoked mozzarella sandwich slathered with pesto and topped with tomatoes. It’s perfection. They’ve recently removed it from the menu (WHAT) but, so far, they’re still willing to make it for me when I ask. So that’s cool.
But I wanted to make something similar at home. And I wanted it to have artichoke hearts. And arugula. And cheddar instead of mozzarella. Really, I suppose the only similarity is that this, too, is a grilled cheese with pesto.
Allow me to daydream for a minute, here. Pesto on grilled cheese is a very, very good thing. The pesto gets all warm and melty, its intense green goodness simultaneously infiltrating the bread and mingling with glorious melted cheese.
This particular version features a super-addicting pesto made with arugula, artichoke hearts, walnuts, and lemon. When combined with golden buttered bread and salty-sharp cheddar cheese, the result is heaven.
Pure unadulterated bliss.
Artichoke Arugula Pesto Grilled Cheese
For the artichoke arugula pesto:
- 3 cups about 2 ounces baby arugula
- 1 cup canned artichoke hearts packed in water (drained)
- 2 garlic cloves (coarsely chopped)
- ¼ cup walnuts
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly grated zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the sandwiches:
- 4 slices of a good (crusty Artisan bread, about 1/2-inch thick)
- 4 ounces thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese (Beecher's Flagship is a favorite)
- 3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- Make the pesto. In a food processor, pulse together the baby arugula, artichoke hearts, garlic, walnuts, Parmesan, zest, lemon juice, and salt until the texture resembles a very coarse meal. While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture forms a saucy, spreadable pesto (you may need a little less or a little more olive oil).
- Make the sandwiches. Butter the outsides of each slice of bread and lay buttered side down. Spread 2 tablespoons pesto on the inside of each slice. Lay cheese on two of the slices and cover each with the second slice of bread, pesto side down and buttered side up.
- Heat an electric griddle or large frying pan over medium-low heat. Carefully transfer sandwiches to cooking surface and cook, pressing occasionally with the back of a spatula, until golden brown. Flip and cook the other side, pressing occasionally, until browned. Turn the sandwich back over and continue cooking, turning occasionally, until the cheese has completely melted, about 5 more minutes.
- Slice in half and serve.
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