I wait all year to eat my weight in caprese salads during the summer. While I could easily make them through the year, they're barely average with sub-par, out-of-season tomatoes. So it's worth it to hold out until tomatoes peak and creamy, fresh mozzarella begs to join in on the fun.
But eating caprese in its classic form is just one way to enjoy it — this twist on a grilled cheese just might rival the original.
A Gooier, Meltier Caprese
Tuck the elements of a caprese salad — thick sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil — between two slices of crusty sourdough bread, griddle them until the tomatoes are warm and the cheese is oozing out from the center, and you've got a more comforting take on the Italian classic.
Pesto takes the place of fresh basil to boost the flavor with its garlicky goodness. The condiment also seeps into every corner of the mozzarella as it melts so you get that herb-packed flavor in every bite. Paired with a crisp glass of rosé, it's guaranteed to be your new favorite way to eat caprese this summer.
Caprese Grilled Cheese
8 (1/2-inch thick) slices sourdough bread (from a 9-inch round boule)
1/4 cup basil pesto
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat a large skillet or flat-top griddle over medium heat. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 250°F.
Spread the pesto on one side of each slice of bread. Evenly distribute the mozzarella over 4 of the pesto bread slices, then top with the tomatoes. Top the stacks with the remaining 4 bread slices, pesto-side down.
Brush the olive oil evenly on the outsides of the sandwiches. Place the sandwiches (2 if you're using a large skillet and all 4 if you're using a flat-top griddle large enough to fit all of them) cheese-side down in the pan. Cook until the bottom is toasted and golden-brown, about 2 minutes.
Use a flat spatula to gently press down on each sandwich. Flip and cook until the second side is toasted and golden-brown, about 2 minutes more.
Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. (Repeat with cooking the remaining 2 sandwiches if you weren't able to fit them all in the pan during the first round.) Once all the sandwiches are in the oven, bake until the cheese is melted in all 4 sandwiches, about 5 to 7 minutes.