Grown Up Grilled Cheese with Homemade Pesto and Heirloom Tomatoes

Sometimes you just want to eat a grilled cheese. Adding tomatoes and homemade pesto to the grilled cheese makes it an acceptable adult dinner in my opinion. If you haven’t made pesto at home before, you’re going to be surprised at how easy it is and tastes way better than store bought! If you are a fan of kale, a great modification is replacing half of the basil with fresh kale.  Grab the last of your heirloom tomatoes, dust off your food processor, and let’s get cooking!


Add half of basil to a food processor.  It does not need to be evenly dispersed, but make sure you do not pile it all on one side.


Add in the fresh garlic.  If you like a strong garlic taste in your pesto, you can throw in a little extra.  Save yourself some time and only slice the garlic in half so the food processor can cut it down into smaller pieces.


Next, add the pine nuts.  Another option for a variation is using chopped walnuts instead of the pine nuts.  What can I say, I like giving you options!


Add the Pecorino-Romano cheese and second half of the basil to the food processor.

20140918-Cheese-in-PestoTurn on the food processor and slowly pour the oil through the feed tube in the food processor. Turn the food processor off and give the pesto a quick stir with a spatula.  Turn the food processor on again for another couple of minutes until it is the consistency you prefer.  If it is too thick, add a little more oil.


Now you’re ready to make the grilled cheese!  You’ll have plenty of pesto left over, so I put the leftovers in a  mason jar and leave it in the fridge.  Homemade pesto is one of my favorite toppings and I like to add it to a variety of food (have you tried it on eggs? Sounds odd, but it’s good!).  Generously layer the pesto on one side of the bread.  Slice the heirloom tomatoes and layer on top of the pesto.


Add the cheese and cook the grilled cheese in a skillet on low-medium heat for 2-3 minutes per side.  You want each side to be browned and the cheese to be melted.


Grilled Cheese with Homemade Pesto and Heirloom Tomatoes

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print



  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 4 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese

Grilled Cheese

  • 1 heirloom tomato, sliced
  • 4 slices of bread
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese


  1. Add basil, garlic, pine nuts, and cheese to food processor.  With processor turned on, slowly pour in oil.  When incorporated, turn off food processor and stir pesto.  Turn on processor again until pesto reaches consistency you like.  If the pesto is too thick, add more oil.
  2. Butter two pieces of bread.  On one side of bread, generously add pesto, tomatoes, and cheese.
  3. Cook grilled cheese in skillet on low-medium heat, giving cheese time to melt.  When bread is brown, flip grilled cheese and brown second side. Serve immediately.

3 thoughts on “Grown Up Grilled Cheese with Homemade Pesto and Heirloom Tomatoes

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