The grilled cheese is one of America's great comfort foods, but rather than debate how to make the perfect classic version, we're mixing it up in honor of Grilled Cheese Month. This sweet, savory, and unexpected honey-basil grilled cheese combines slightly sweet wheat bread, a drizzle of honey, fresh herbs, and sliced tomato with a one-two cheese punch of fontina and mozzarella. Watch and learn how to make this serious contender for your new favorite cheesy sandwich.
Until my late teens, I incorrectly assumed that classic pesto got its backbone from walnuts. This notion came from years spent as a small child helping my step-grandmother, Grenelle, blitz up batch after batch. Every Summer she'd harvest her backyard basil crop, and we'd spend afternoons tucking away containers of walnut-studded pesto in her basement freezer to enjoy year-round. Most (if not all) was enjoyed simply — with a platter of saltine crackers, ham, and cheese — though throughout my youth, I shunned pesto for its pungent odor and suspect color.
Years later, after I realized the error of my ways, I dived into a passionate love affair with all things pesto. I called Grenelle for her recipe, remembering the pesto's legion of household fans. I scribbled down the recipe on scrap paper, where it lived for many years, splattered with olive oil. Then one day, while flipping through a tattered copy of the Silver Palate Cookbook, I learned her secret.
She may not have invented this recipe, but today I still consider it Grenelle's pesto. Though pine nuts star in the classic Genovese version, to this day I prefer pesto made with walnuts, as the delicate flavor of pine nuts can get lost amongst the assertiveness of parmesan and raw garlic. Chances are, this version will make you a walnut pesto convert.
One of the undeniable perks of Summer is basil's abundant availability, and its tendency to have a sweeter flavor and more tender leaves when it's in season. Although it'd be easy to spend all Summer using it in classic preparations like tricolor Caprese salad and fresh pesto, there are plenty of other uses for the herb, too. Our picks for best basil dishes when you keep reading.
- Drinks. Unlike some herbs, such as rosemary, basil has a subtle earthy quality that's not overpowering. Think of it like mint and use the delicate leaves in a beverage or cocktail. Add muddled basil to lemonade, bellinis, or gimlets.
- Salads. Basil is an essential ingredient to Caprese salad, but it also adds freshness to any mixed green salad. Simply toss torn basil leaves with greens and you've got a sophisticated take on the mixed green salad.
Although I love the classic bellini, it's fun to jazz it up. One way I like to do that is with the addition of herbs. Muddle fresh aromatic herbs, like basil, cilantro, or thyme, with the pureed peaches. Add ice, shake, and strain the mixture into a Champagne flute. Top with bubbly and you've got a refreshing, earthy take on the bellini. Keep reading for the recipe.