A cheese toastie is a thing of nostalgia – like Live and Kicking, S Club 7 and jelly shoes, the mere mention of a cheese toastie takes me back to my childhood.
In those days, it involved pre-sliced white bread, crusts removed, buttered both sides, 2 slithers of cheddar placed in the middle, and sandwiched in a toastie maker.
Even with the smallest amount of cheese placed between the two slices a small amount of molten cheddar would always escape. That cheese-y goo would then form crispy bits around the edge of the toastie sealing it shut. The iconic triangular shape is something I will always remember.
The modern cheese toastie (or grilled cheese as its increasingly called) is on a completely other level.
Gourmet cheese toastie shops have opened with exotic flavour combinations sandwiched between thick, doorstop sized slices of artisan bread. Its these new creations that I’ve been attempting to recreate at home.
Any and every grilled cheese toastie starts off with two slices of bread.
I prefer to slice the loaf myself rather than buying pre-sliced. Why? Because pre-sliced bread is often not that good!
By slicing your own bread you can also get the perfect slice thickness. 1.5 cm/0.5 inch is ideal. It needs to be thick enough to keep its shape but thin enough to let the heat spread through to your filling.
You also want something with real flavour – white preferably – and soft enough to soak up all the butter and cheese we are about to throw at it.
There’s also no need to slice off crusts here. They offer some structure to what would otherwise be a moist, gooey mess.
If you go the whole hog and make your own bread then you get extra brownie points!!!
Melting point is perhaps THE most inportant factor when choosing a cheese. Yes we care about flavour but even the tasties cheese is no good if it need to be close to the sun before it melts into a cheesey-slick.
For this cheese toastie, mozzarella was the obvious choice. Its soft when melted, creamy and mild, working perfectly with the pesto and artichokes.
I also LOVE the way mozzarella stretches when you bite into it.
Sure you could be a purist and ONLY put cheese in your toastie but you’d be missing a trick.
Cheese is often served as part of an anti-pasti platter or salad and that is where I’ve taken my inspiration from.
A good smear of pesto, a layer of spinach and silky yet sharp artichokes are all added to the mix for this over the top sandwich.
I will always associate grilled cheese toasties with post-school snacking in front of the TV. But this toastie is now my go-to Saturday lunch. When will you eat yours?
Spinach, Artichoke and Pesto Grilled Cheese Toastie
This spinach, artichoke and pesto grilled cheese toastie is the ultimate gourmet sandwich.
- 2 slices white bread
- 2 tbsp pesto
- 4 slices mozzarella
- 3-4 antipasti artichokes sliced
- 4-5 leaves spinach
- 2 tbsp butter
- olive oil
Spread both slices of bread with the pesto (on one side only).
Top one slice of bread with the mozzarella, followed by the sliced artichoke and then the spinach.
Top the sandwich with the other slice of bread, pesto side down.
Heat half of the butter and a dash of olive oil in a frying pan on a low heat until just melted.
Place the sandwich into the pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes on a low heat or until each side is a nice crispy golden brown.
When its ready to flip, add the rest of the butter into the pan and cook for another 5-6 minutes on low until golden brown.
Slice in half diagonally to serve.