Entrée, Summer

PESTO VEGGIE MELTS

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I’ve come a long way from the days when Ma would make us tuna melts. You know, the Costco croissants with canned tuna and melted cheddar? Anyone? We led a strict, low cholesterol diet at our house.

Anyone can make a good ol’ brown bag sandwich, but when a sandwich is warm, and with homemade pesto, it makes me want to snuggle up and have another. I think that's one of my favorite things about days off... I get to spend time cooking food that is warm and tastes yummy. The beauty of the open face sandwich is that you get to enjoy the goodies, as opposed to just tasting bread. It seemed the perfect day to blend up a pesto with all of my basil, and was just the flavor punch these veggie melts needed. If you use store bought pesto, you don’t get the kick back that the fresh stuff gives you. It is worth the time, as you can double the recipe and use it in eggs, as a dip, dressing etc.

I layered the lemony pesto with fresh greens, then another flavor punch (caramelized onions), then a thick layer of fresh (heirloom tomatoes) and topped it off with just a bit of crispy mozzarella. Post picture indulgence, Hugh and I wished there were more. It was like having a healthier version of pizza… you don’t need mounds of cheese when you have a great pesto and tasty onions.

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PESTO VEGGIE MELTS // Makes 2

1 tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Yellow Onion, chopped

2 Slices Ezekial Bread (or whole grain of choice)

1 Big Heirloom Tomato, cut into 4 thick slices

1 Cup Arugula

4 Thin Slices Fresh Mozarella Cheese

Black Pepper

The Pesto

4 Cups Basil Leaves

1/3 Cup Olive Oil

½ Cup Lemon Juice

1/3 Cup Toasted Pine nuts

1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Large Cloves Garlic

1 tbsp. Black Pepper

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In a blender or food processor, add the pine nuts, garlic and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Add in half of the basil leaves and pulse to combine, add the rest of the basil leaves and pepper and with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Stir in parmesan cheese. Leave the pesto a bit chunky, does not need to be totally smooth.

1. In a sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the chopped yellow onion and sauté on medium until caramelized, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, prepare above pesto.

2. Oven to broil. Toast the bread for one minute. Assemble on each: toast, generous spread of pesto, arugula, caramelized onions, two heirloom tomatoes, sprinkle of black pepper and fresh mozzarella cheese in the center (it will melt down).

3. Broil on top rack for about 8 minutes until the cheese is melted and a bit crispy on top. Then make another one if you have leftover ingredients because you will want it.

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