This Broccoli Pesto Grilled Cheese has it all: It's savory, salty, nutty, buttery, and filled with gooey melted mozzarella cheese. If you're ready to take your lunch or dinner to the next level, this is the recipe for you. Gluten-free + Nut-free option.
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Grilled cheese is seriously one of my favorite simple meals on Earth. Growing up in Florida, I learned how to make grilled cheese and deviled eggs as one of my first types of foods to master everyday after I came from school. While my grilled cheeses were simple yet delicious, they were in no shape or form anything like this Broccoli Pesto Grilled Cheese.
There are THREE components to these decadent grilled cheese sandwiches: the broccoli, fresh mozzarella cheese, and the pesto sauce.
Start by sautéing the broccoli or broccolini by adding them to a skillet over medium-high heat and drizzling them to olive oil with a few sprinkles of salt + black pepper, tossing until wilted and tender. Then make the pesto. You'll need a food processor. Then, it's a simple method of dumping in your ingredients and blending until you have a bright green pesto sauce with a bit of texture. After that, making the herb butter adds a nice element and you can assemble + cook each sandwich to perfection!
Ingredients for Broccoli Pesto Grilled Cheese
Broccoli. I love using broccoli or broccolini. You'll be sautéing or roasting them to perfection!
Bread. I like to use Dave's Killer Done Right White Bread or some crusty sourdough. You can use your fave rustic bread.
Herb butter. I like a mixture of unsalted butter that's softened at room temp. and mixed with herbs like garlic powder, parsley, oregano, basil, and salt.
Mozzarella (fresh or brick). Adds a great amount of savory and beautiful melty cheese flavor between the fillings of this sandwich.
Easy Pesto Sauce
Here's what you need to make this one-step pesto:
Spinach. You can also use kale if you like. This adds an extra boost of bright green color to the sauce.
Basil. You can't have pesto without it!
Walnuts. You can also use pine nuts if you like.
Olive oil. Choose a good-quality oil with a robust flavor.
Lemon juice. this helps keep the pesto bright.
Garlic. Fresh garlic will give you the best flavor.
Traditionally, pesto contains nuts. However, you can substitute the walnuts in this recipe with sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds for a nut-free version.
SHOP MY FAVORITE TOOLS FOR COOKING, ESPECIALLY FOR THIS GRILLED CHEESE!
Here, I’ve curated a list of cooking + baking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baked goods or cooked meals, especially with this Broccoli Pesto Grilled Cheese. Everything from my fave baking sheet, parchment paper, food processor, high-powered blender, skillets, and more. SEE THEM HERE!
Why You’ll Love This Broccoli Pesto Grilled Cheese
Bold flavors—Savory + Nutty marry so well together!
Easy to make. Easy weeknight meal option or laidback lunch idea.
Pesto is just so delicious as topping!
Uses simple ingredients.
Great gluten-free and nut-free options for everyone!
Fun cooking activity for entire family. Kid love the assembling of grilled cheese!
And just absolutely perfect for any kind of weather, especially when paired with soup during the cooler months.
Why Won't My Cheese Melt in the Grilled Cheese?
It's so important to use fresh Mozzarella or freshly-grated Mozzarella cheese for the "gooey" results in your Broccoli Pesto Grilled Cheese. While you can use shredded cheese, it won't melt as seamlessly because it has a special "coating", which prevents it from melting smoothly. NOTE: If you only have shredded cheese, then I recommend adding it the grilled cheese per usual and possibly adding it to the oven at 400 Degrees Fahrenheit for 5-10 minutes to help assist.
What Goes Well with Broccoli Pesto Grilled Cheese
I like to enjoy my Broccoli Pesto Grilled Cheese on it's own most days or at least with a very simple side, however sometimes you can always spruce things up for a more hearty meal. Therefore, I wanted to share a few more ideas incase you make this grilled cheese more than once and want to switch things up!
Other food option ideas to enjoy this grilled cheese with----include:
1bunchbroccoli or broccolini, chopped into medium florets
1tablespoonExtra virgin olive oil
1teaspoonsea salt + black pepper
8slicesbread(I love using Dave's Killer Done Right White Bread or rustic sourdough bread)
8oz.fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly-sliced
4Tbspsunsalted butter, softened at room temp.
Pinch ofsea salt
SAUTE THE BROCCOLI:
In a medium skillet (10-inch) over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once heated, add the broccoli or broccolini followed by the salt and black pepper, tossing them as they begin to "darken" in color and become wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
TO MAKE THE PESTO SAUCE:
Add all ingredients into a food processor or blender and process (or blend) until combined and broken down. NOTE: If needed, add a bit of water (1 Tbsp), if too thick. The pesto should be paste-like in consistency.
TO MAKE THE HERB BUTTER:
In a bowl, mix together all ingredients until smooth and soft.
ASSEMBLY + COOK:
On the outsides of each bread slice, spread a bit of the herb butter so that they become nicely crisp and golden.
On one side of 4 slices of bread, add a spoonful of pesto sauce, spreading it evenly until covered followed a handful of sautéed broccoli florets. On the other half of each sandwich (atop remaining 4 slices), add slices of mozzarella cheese. Place together one side of bread that has cheese with the other side that has the pesto-broccoli mixture, pressing them gently together to make a sandwich. Repeat until all sandwiches were made.
In a large skillet (12-inch) over medium-high heat, add two sandwiches (one side down), cooking until golden brown and the mozzarella has melted, about 3-4 minutes. Flip sandwich unto opposite side and cook from another 3-4 minutes.
Once done, cut in halves (if desired), plate the sandwiches with your favorite side or chips and enjoy.
Tips & Tricks
OILS: Instead of using Extra Virgin Olive Oil, you can substitute with Grapeseed Oil, Avocado Oil, or Coconut Oil.
GUTEN-FREE OPTION: To make these grilled cheese sandwiches entirely GF, simply ensure that the bread is GF-Friendly.
NUT-FREE: Traditionally, pesto contains nuts. However, you can substitute the walnuts in this recipe with sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds for a nut-free version.
EQUIPMENT: Here, I’ve curated a list of cooking + baking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baked goods or cooked meals, especially with this Broccoli Pesto Grilled Cheese . Everything from my fave baking sheet, parchment paper, food processor, high-powered blender, skillets, and more. SEE THEM HERE!