Updated: May 19
This is one of our favorite dishes to make in the height of summer when tomatoes are at their peak and there's tons of fresh basil in the garden. The beef patties from our pasture raised beef share (highly recommend doing this if you have the freezer space) are honestly my favorite thing to make. We have them for lunches or a quick but healthy dinner. They are humble but delicious and so, so good for you.
I grew up loving grilled cheese sandwiches, my mom made the best. She always used lots of butter on the bread and made sure the sandwiches were nice and crispy. I've always made grilled cheese in a skillet until I figured out how much easier it was to just broil them in the oven. And the ones I make now are usually open face, so you add on more condiments. I use sliced homemade sourdough bread for my recipe, so if you make bread, use that! If not, I always recommend a good sourdough. But, use whatever bread you prefer.
Pesto! This is my favorite sauce to make, hands down. I never make it the same exact way, but I tried to put down below the basic recipe that I go by. I usually use whatever herbs and greens I'm in the mood for or have available, but because I mostly make this during summer, basil steals the spotlight. I love adding in fresh sage, sage is such an under appreciated culinary herb; parsley adds sweetness and cilantro adds a light lemony flavor; I haven't tried oregano but it would add some lovely sweetness as well I'm sure. I'm not a huge fan of cooked beet greens, so I like to add them into my pesto to gain the nutritional benefits. Speaking of, this sauce is magic. The garlic and herbs are immune boosting and highly nutritious; the seeds add vitamins, amino acids and much more. They're highly nutrient dense, so just a little bit is enough to gain the benefits. When you have a cold or other sickness, add this sauce onto your toast, your rice, your meats, your potatoes, basically anything! Food is medicine and this pesto is delicious medicine.
For the pesto
A few large handfuls of fresh sweet basil (if it's in season) Handful of other seasonal herbs of your choice - I like cilantro, parsley or sage
Large handful of seasonal greens of your choice - beet greens, asian greens, chard, nettles, spinach, etc
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/4 - 1/2 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds - you could also use chopped almonds or walnuts, or whatever seeds/nuts you have on hand
Kosher salt & black pepper to taste
Place all the herbs with their stems & all the greens into a large food processor or blender. Add the olive oil, garlic, parmesan & seeds. Blend until well incorporated but not smooth (you want some little chunks). If it's too thick, add more oil; if too thin, add more seeds/nuts. Taste & add salt and pepper until it tastes just right to you. The salt really helps bring out all the flavors, but there is also a lot of salt in the cheese, so add it in in small amounts until you get the taste that you like. Once the flavor and consistency is to your liking, transfer sauce to a large wide mouth jar with lid.
Will keep for at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator. *When the pesto settles, sometimes the olive oil will rise to the top and/or the top of the sauce will get darker, just stir it back in before using.
For the beef patties
2 lbs ground beef, preferably grass/pasture fed
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed & minced
Handful fresh parsley or oregano, finely chopped
2 tbsp amino acids or low sodium soy sauce
Enough olive oil or butter to coat a skillet
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl with your hands, make sure it's well incorporated. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil or butter. Begin to form balls of the meat with your hands, then form them into nice round patties, flattening them out- whatever size you'd like. I like to make some medium and some smaller sizes for snacks. Place 4-5 patties on the hot pan and watch out for grease pops! After about 3 minutes, flip the patties over, they should be crispy and browned, not black and not too pink. Cook the other side to desired wellness. Place patties in a dish and cover to keep warm. Continue to add patties until you've cooked all the meat. Should make 8-10 patties. Set aside.
For the grilled cheese
8-10 slices sourdough bread (or bread of choice)
Butter, at room temperature
8-10 slices cheese of choice - raw cheddar or gruyer are nice for this
2 large very ripe tomatoes, sliced into rounds
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Freshly grated parmesan
Set oven to broil & move rack to top third of the oven. Cover a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Arrange bread slices on the pan. Using a spatula or butter knife, butter each piece of bread on both sides. Add 1 cheese slice to each piece of bread, then add a couple basil leaves and top with a tomato slice. Sprinkle some parmesan on top of the tomatoes and pop the pan in the oven. Set a timer for 3 minutes, but I would stay close by to keep an eye on it! Broil works very quickly and you don't want to burn the bread. Once the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown and crispy, take it out of the oven.
Place one "sandwich" on each plate, then add a beef patty on the side. Top the patty with a spoonful of pesto, and you might want to top the grilled cheese with it too if you're really loving it. Serve and enjoy!
1. To adapt this recipe to winter/spring when there is no fresh basil, simply use whatever fresh greens and fresh herbs you do have available, in the same amounts as the recipe above. Instead of tomatoes, you could top the sandwich with some roasted carrots or other root veggies.
Stay nourished. xx Nicole