Who else is excited about this Summer?
I’m already feeling the need to switch out the wardrobe from jackets and boots so I can dig out all the shorts and flip-flops. Maybe this is just me, but there’s just something so liberating about not having to layer up to walk outside. It’s like more of the world opens up during the warmer seasons. I love it.
Also, it sounds like my family is going to be having lots of visitors through the Summer. We’ve got plans with both old and new friends so it’s going to be a really busy season of barbecues, picnics, and sports. Oh, and there’s only a few days left until that trip I’ve been hinting at. I’ll take away the vagueness and tell you where I’m going. I’m spending a few days in Victoria, British Columbia and I’m so looking forward to it.
Okay, today I’m sharing one of the best quick fixes I’ve come up with in a while. I don’t know about you, but I adore pesto of any kind. The traditional kind is always a favorite, but I really enjoy putting in some unexpected ingredient too? Did you know pesto doesn’t have any rules? In fact, I feel that way about cooking in general. If you’re trying to always do things “right” you’re doing it all wrong.
Not that there aren’t some recipes that must be done in a specific way to get the best results, but in most cases there is plenty of room for some fun little changes or a little surprise ingredient. Cooking is both science and art.
Anyway, I know for sure already that some of those friends I was talking about are vegetarians I really enjoy trying a variety of cooking challenges anyway, so I decided to keep this sandwich meatless. Actually, I had originally planned to make it a vegan sandwich until I looked closely at some cheese I’d gotten for it and realized it wasn’t really a vegan cheese, just lactose free. That’s okay, I just decided I’ll try some vegan cheese in another recipe and I grabbed the havarti, which by the way, if you’ve never tried it you’re missing out. I’m not much of a cheese person myself but it’s currently my family’s favorite and if I do go for cheese on occasion, it’s my favorite too.
The real star of this recipe if, of course, the pesto! The recipe makes enough pesto for quite a few sandwiches, but the good thing is that it saves well and also, it can be used in so many ways other than on these sandwiches. So let’s do a simple breakdown of this sandwich. Start with some rye bread, add some fresh baby spinach and lightly sautéed mushrooms, havarti cheese, and a very generous amount of the sun-dried tomato pesto, then melt all together quick and easy. OOoooooh, if you’ve got a panini press that would be amazing too. Why don’t I have a panini press by the way? I don’t know but clearly I need to fix that asap.
I’d say this sandwich is the perfect way to get into the mood for everything fresh and summery. If you try be sure to let me know what you think!
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Havarti Grilled Cheese
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto:
- 1 8 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil
- 1 5 ounce can tomato paste
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach
- 1/4 cup walnuts you can also use a different nut such as almonds if desired
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or more walnuts
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves tightly packed
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 slices rye bread
- 1 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 1/2 cup button mushrooms sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
- 3-4 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto recipe above
- 2 slices Jalapeño Havarti Style Daiya cheese or any preferred "cheese"
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto:
Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and pulse until nearly smooth. Store in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 4 months.
Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add about 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté the mushrooms for 2-3 minutes until lightly browning along the edges. Remove from pan and quickly lay the "cheese" slice on the pan to warm slightly. Now assemble the sandwich by layering the mushrooms with the spinach, havarti, and pesto on the slices of bread.
Add the other 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the skillet to the pan and reduce heat to low. Grill the sandwich on both sides for about 5 minutes until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.