Grilled Mozzarella and Red Peppers Sandwich

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This sandwich screams FRESHNESS, as it is made with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil pesto and oven roasted red sweet bell peppers drizzled balsamic vinegar. With layers of flavor, it is the perfect sandwich for a Meatless Monday lunch option.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 red sweet bell pepper
1 Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Ball
2 slices of Provolone Cheese
4 slices Italian bread
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Vegetable cooking spray

For the Fresh Basil Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt, more to taste
freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500° F .

Place the red bell peppers on a rimmed backing sheet. Lightly coat the peppers with the vegetable spray and place in the heated oven. Allow the peppers to roast for about 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate it at about the 7 minute mark and remove when all sides have charred black. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow them to cool. When the red peppers have cooled to the touch, remove the charred skin by using a clean tea towel. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds, then julienne the roasted peppers.

Using a sharp knife, thinly slice six pieces of cheese from the mozzarella ball.

To prepare the pesto spread: Pulse basil and pine nuts in a food processor: Place the basil leaves and pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a several times.

Add the garlic and Parmesan or Romano cheese and pulse several times more. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.

While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream. Adding the olive oil slowly, while the processor is running, will help it emulsify and help keep the olive oil from separating. Occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor. Stir in salt and freshly ground black pepper, add more to taste. cover and set aside.

Set the oven to 450 ° F.

Take 4 slices of Italian bread and spread the pesto on one side.

Lay a slice of provolone ontop of the pesto.

Take one slice and with the pesto side up and layer with the julienned red pepper first.

Use a brush and lightly coat the top of the red pepper with 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar.

Add three slices of Mozzarella cheese ontop of the peppers and close the with another bread slice. The pesto side should be touching the mozzarella. Repeat the process for the second sandwich.

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high. Melt the butter until it is lightly foaming. Gently place the sandwiches in the melted butter.

Fry the sandwiches for about 2 to 4 minutes on medium heat, as it the bread become golden brown. Using spatula flip the sandwich over until the bread is crispy and golden brown, for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Continue to cook the sandwiches in the oven, by placing the skillet sandwich in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes. Cook until the cheese is melted and slightly oozing from the bread. Remove from the oven.

Using a spatula, place a sandwich on a plate and serve immediately.

 

 

Cook’s Note:
Basil pesto oxidizes (darkens) when exposed to air, so to store, cover tightly with plastic wrap making sure the plastic is touching the top of the pesto and not allowing the pesto to have contact with air, making a complete seal. The pesto will stay greener longer that way. The pest will keep for about 2 weeks.

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Spaghetti with Arugula and Mint Pesto

Here is a peppery update to a classic basil pesto: arugula and fresh mint are combined to create a sprightly, fragrant pesto that’s wonderful with spaghetti. Add a salad and some crusty bread for an easy vegetarian supper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:
5 cups packed arugula
3/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup shaved aged hard cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for sprinkling
2 garlic cloves
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 pound spaghetti

 

Directions:
In a blender, combine the arugula, mint, olive oil, the 1/2 cup cheese, the garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate the pesto until ready to serve.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente , tender but firm to the bite,  10 to 12 minutes, or according to the package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the empty pot.

Toss the pesto with the spaghetti. Thin it out with a small amount of reserved cooking water if needed. Taste, season with salt and pepper, and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Divide among warmed serving bowls. Sprinkle cheese over each portion and serve immediately.

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor


Surf and Turf

 

This roulade style dish elevates the classic grilled steak to the next level, and the pesto inside makes the steak super moist and a beautiful presentation when served along side roasted baby potatoes and snow crab legs.

 

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Serves 6

Ingredients:
For the Herb  Pesto:
1 1/2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup  packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup packed parsley
2 1/2 cups baby spinach
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 to 1 cups  extra-virgin olive oil

For The Steak:
One  3-pound flank steak
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil

For the Baby Potatoes:

A variety of about 30 to 40 baby potatoes
(Red bliss, purple, Yukon gold, white)
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt, to taste


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

To roast the potatoes, place 2 sheets of parchment paper onto a roasting pan.

In a bowl, toss together the potatoes, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil, making sure that the potatoes are well coated.

Pour the potatoes onto the parchment paper-covered roasting pan, and cover with 2 more sheets of parchment paper. Fold the edges of the parchment in to seal the potatoes. Cook them in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until they are crispy.

For the pesto, combine the mint,  basil, parsley, spinach, garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese in a food processor and pulse to partially combine.  Turn the processor on Auto and drizzle in the olive oil, a half cup at a time, until the ingredients start to come together into a chunky paste. Make sure to add the oil a little at a time to ensure a good consistency with the pesto. You do not want it to be thin and runny.

Place the flank steak flat on a work surface  with the grain of the meat running perpendicular to you. Using a long, thin, very sharp knife, butterfly the meat by slicing through the long side of the steak, opening it up like the pages of a book,as you go, stopping  1/2 inch short of cutting the steak in  two. Season with salt and pepper.Spread the pesto all over the meat, leaving a 1 1/2-inch space all around the edge. Roll up the steak, with the grain running the  length of the roll, and tie up with kitchen twine every 2 inches. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rub the steak with olive oil then sear it in a very hot, cast-iron skillet over high heat or on a very hot grill. Place it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes for medium-rare steak. Place the steak on a cutting board and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the strings and carve across the grain into 1-to 2-inch slices.

Serve alongside Baby Potatoes  and Snow Crab Legs for an elegant surf and turf presentation.