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.
Quick, hurry now: before grilling season is over, you must make these scrumptious grilled clams! I've enjoyed them several times in the past few months, but kept forgetting to snap a photo. Luckily, I finally remembered, because with these clams, you're in for a real treat. Even a self-proclaimed clam-hater (my mother) expressed her genuine love for these breadcrumb-filled, finger-licking good, garlicky clams. If you want to serve them to a crowd, I recommend combining the breadcrumb stuffing ingredients ahead of time, then after you've put the clams on the grill, toss the opened ones with the mixture and serve piping hot. What are you waiting for?! Get the recipe now.
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.
Basil is the Summer's most beloved herb, and when it's in season, I simply can not get enough of it. While classic preparations like pesto and pizza margherita are great ways to use basil, there are plenty of other methods that highlight the fragrant herb's wonderful flavor. Here are six suggestions for making the most of that basil bounty.
- 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.
The next time you've got a handful of ripe peaches that need to be consumed, use them to make bellinis. The Italian cocktail that originated in Harry's Bar in Venice combines sparkling wine with peach puree. Traditionally the peaches are white peaches, but it works well with any in-season variety.
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.
Savory peach dishes are a Summer favorite, and if peaches can pair well with pancetta and basil as an appetizer, why not throw them all into a grilled cheese sandwich? I did just that on a recent warm evening. The resulting sandwich was absolutely scrumptious! It's a great combination of flavors (salty and sweet) and textures (crispy and gooey). Putting peaches in a grilled cheese sandwich may sound crazy, but trust me, it really works! To give this quick and easy recipe a try, read on for the technique.
During the Summer, I love to use the bounty of in-season basil to make fresh pesto. The combination of basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil is always delicious. If you don't have time to blitz your own pesto but want to cook with the sauce, simply pick up some from the local market. Although pesto is wonderful tossed with al dente pasta, there are plenty of other ways to make use of the Italian condiment. To see my suggestions, read on.
If you've never made a cocktail with herbs before, start with this recipe. It's a simple smash that results in a refreshing concoction with a beautiful color. Since basil is a mild and somewhat floral herb, it doesn't overpower the drink. The sweetness comes from juicy strawberries while fresh, naturally acidic lemons add a nice tartness. The recipe calls for gin, but if you're not a fan of the botanical spirit, use vodka instead. This libation is an ideal Summer sipper, so get the method now.
Panzanella is an Italian bread salad that's traditionally made in the Summer with day old bread, tomatoes, and basil. However, I love this salad and I make it year-round. So does Michael Chiarello, apparently, because he's got recipes for Spring and Winter panzanellas that incorporate seasonal ingredients.
Over the weekend I was invited to a picnic and decided it was the ideal time to experiment with his Spring version. It combines fresh peas, asparagus, basil, and green beans with croutons, radicchio, spinach, and ricotta cheese. This salad is spectacular!
It's full of interesting textures, from the crunch of the croutons to the crumble of the cheese. It's packed with tons of different flavors: earthy asparagus, aromatic basil, salty cheese. Spring panzanella is not only awesome at a picnic, but it's a welcome addition to a Memorial Day barbecue menu. Check out the method now.