Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Basil: An Herb a Day

In my previous post, I mentioned my herbs that I had planted for the spring.  Now that they have taken root, I decided to utilize one herb every night for a week and create a recipe that really makes that specific herb shine.  I decided to start easy with basil, the popular kid in my school of herbs.  My mind initially jumped to pesto.  I love pesto.  Love, love, LOVE pesto, but I realized I wasn't really thinking outside of the box.  I thought about a caprese salad, which is one of my favorite salads for this time of year: tomatoes, mozzarella  basil, balsamic.  What's not to love?

I went back and forth, debating what I was going to chose for my lovely, sweet basil.  I eventually decided to do it simple, and do it right: Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese.  Food cannot get more comforting or more simple than a grilled cheese.  I also knew we were having some special friends for dinner and there was a slim-to-none chance that I could screw up a grilled cheese.  Here's how I did it.

Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese

4 vine ripened tomatoes
1/2 lb of good mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup of basil
2 TBSP of butter
1 loaf of wheat multigrain bread
salt and pepper

Heat a grill pan or skillet to medium high.  Grease pan with butter or non-stick spray.  Slather butter on one side of each slice of the multigrain bread (enough for four sandwiches).  Set aside.

Cut each tomato into four slices.  I used gold tomatoes and red tomatoes because they were so beautiful in the store, but any color would work just fine.  Seed your tomatoes to rid yourself of excess juice, and pat the tomatoes dry with a paper towel.  Soggy bread can really be a Debbie Downer at a grilled cheese party.  Sprinkle the slices with salt and pepper.

Wash and dry your basil leaves.  Grab your mozzarella from the fridge and slice 1/2lb of it.  I have been getting my mozzarella from Sam's where they have 2lbs of fresh mozzarella for around $6.00!  You can't buy two pounds of the mozzarella processed cheese for that price.  It is definitely worth it.  

Now it is time to assemble all of your goodies.  I layered a few basil leaves on the non-buttered side of four slices of bread.  On top of this I placed my tomatoes (two yellow slices and two red slices), and finally, the delicious mozzarella.  With precious care, I laid the top slice of bread over my lovely sandwich, and gingerly slid them onto the hot griddle.

When the bread becomes tan and crispy, flip that baby.  Once the cheese gets to that ooey, gooey, goodness stage, and you know the stage I am talking about, remove them from the grill.  Cut the sandwiches into triangles and serve immediately.

We had a fantastic time with our dinner guests, and I am pretty sure my cheeks hurt from laughing as much as I did.  I am so glad we had some sweet friends to share this sweet basil meal with us.