caprese grilled cheese

caprese grilled cheese 1266

I heard a rumor that April is apparently “National Grilled Cheese Month” (which is apparently a thing now). Since I had the whole month of April to hop on board with this theme, naturally I waited until the last (full) week to do so.

We’ll start with one of my favorite combos – caprese.

The bright flavor of the pesto with warm, creamy cheese, fresh ripe tomatoes, and crisp garlicky bread … Just trust me when I say that this combination is not one that you want to miss out on.

It’s basically spring inside of a sandwich.  Well, Spring inside of a warm, gooey grilled cheese sandwich. The hearty bread combined with the rich cheese and the burst of fresh ripe tomatoes makes this sandwich the perfect balance of filling and refreshing.

caprese grilled cheese

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 sandwiches

Serving Size: 1 sandwich


    For the grilled cheese
  • 4 slices of hearty bread (I used Trader Joe's country white)
  • 2 slices mozzarella cheese, halved if necessary
  • 2 slices provolone or fontina cheese, halved if necessary
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 basil leaves, torn
  • 2 Tablespoons pesto, homemade or storebought
  • Garlic butter (recipe below)
  • Garlic butter
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped or smashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


    Make the garlic butter
  1. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a small pan. Add garlic and salt; continue cooking over low/medium-low until very fragrant and cloves are lightly-browned and the salt has dissolved. Keep an eye on the butter making sure not to burn either the butter or the garlic.
  2. Remove from heat and pour into heat-proof container, straining out the garlic cloves. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Make the grilled cheese
  4. Have your mise en place ready to go as this will go quickly.
  5. Heat your skillet on medium heat until warmed. Place bread slices inside-down on your skillet and brush the tops with the garlic butter.
  6. Once the insides are toasted, flip over and spread inside of bread with pesto sauce.
  7. Layer with cheeses, basil leaves, tomato and another slice of cheese (I like to cheese both sides of my grilled cheese).
  8. Tent with foil (or a lid if you're fancy enough to own one) until the cheese begins to melt.
  9. Close the sandwiches and continue cooking until completely heated through and cheese is melted, flipping if necessary.


garlic basil chicken with caprese salsa

garlic chicken main

When it’s hot out, sometimes you just want something light and refreshing. Something that will fill you up without weighing you down. I realize it’s cooling down for the rest of the world, but here in AZ we’re still breaking triple-digit records. In fact, we just had the hottest August on record (go us).  This  dish fits the bill perfectly – the mozzarella salsa is simple and refreshing and tastes great alongside its basil chicken companion. I should have taken pictures of the dish assembled, or at least better pictures of the individual items, but it was an especially hectic day when we had this for dinner. Honestly, I am surprised I was able to snap any pictures at all.

Mom saw this recipe in Sunset magazine, and doggy-eared it for us to make together. I planned to pick mom up, stop by the store, and get to work cooking. Unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan. Mom decided she would meet at my house, so I went to the store solo after work. When I arrived home from the store, BF needed a ride to the car shop to pick up his car. When I called mom to tell her, turns out her hubby needed a ride to the Harley shop over there as well. So it turned into more of a pick BF up, pick mom’s hubby up, drop at respective shops, get home and then get to work… Oh crap, someone go pick up mom!

When I finally started cooking, I was already famished. I threw together a quick meat and cheese platter for me everyone to snack on while preparing dinner, since it was much later than we were used to eating. Thank goodness this meal came together so easily. It was surprisingly flavorful and filling, but without feeling heavy.

I halved the recipe because there were only four of us, and swapped boneless skinless chicken for the bone-in/skin-on that the original recipe called for. Also, since I was delusional with hunger, I only cut a few of the tomatoes and left the rest of them whole. Serve the salsa on top of (or under) the chicken, it’d also make a great caprese salad side all on its own.

Garlic Basil Chicken with Caprese Salsa
[Printable Version]
For the chicken:

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken breasts

For the “Salsa”

  • 1 qt. mixed colors cherry and/or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups (12 oz. drained) fresh mozzarella balls (or torn mozza if you can’t find them)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  1. Make rub for chicken: Pulse basil, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor until roughly chopped and rub all over chicken. Let sit about 30 minutes (or just while you make your salsa).
  1. Make “salsa”: Stir together tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to combine; let stand 30 minutes.
  1. Grill chicken over med-high heat until cooked through (about 10 – 15 minutes) and transfer chicken to a platter. Tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve chicken on top of or covered in salsa.

[ Adapted from Sunset Magazine, July 2011 ]