Not Grilled Cheese, it’s THRILLED CHEESE!

Oh you know I crack myself up.  And I have really done it this time, I tell ya.  What happens when you make a grilled cheese with pesto, Parmesan, calamata olives and tomato?  It’s a Thrilled Cheese!  And just wait for the special surprise ingredient.  Come with me…

Um-yum-yum-yum, Um-yum-yum-yum...

Um-yum-yum-yum, Um-yum-yum-yum...

What’s that?  CLOSER, you say?  How’s THIS?

So thrilled, I was shaking the camera a wee bit... sorry.

So thrilled, I was shaking the camera a wee bit... sorry about blurriness.

Yes, just when you thought grilled cheese had become frightfully passé, here comes the greatest thing to happen to it since– since PESTO!  And just WAIT for the awesome alternative to butter I used.  Follow me, my friends…

Small frying pan
Serrated knife

Wheat bread
Parmesan cheese wedge
1 tomato
4 calamata (Greek) olives, pitted
Tsp olive oil
Few grains salt (I’m not even kidding, people.)

Okay!  Are you ready?  This is so great.  And it happened quite by accident.  Well, I mean it’s not like I tripped and suddenly out popped a Thrilled Cheese sandwich, but I’m just saying I was hungry, I looked around, and I just put all this stuff together!

Take your two pieces of bread and smear them, pretty liberally, with the pesto.  (You notice I never make my own pesto?  No chopper mixer thingy in my possession, so no homemade pesto.  But whatever – it’s easier this way and makes less mess.)

Ok, now take your 4 olives and cut them up with your little serrated knife.  (The one you spread the pesto with a second ago – god, you people have such short-term memories.)  I know 4 olives doesn’t seem like much, but you only need to cover one slice of bread and the flavor of a Greek olive is strong, so a little goes a long way, trust me.  In fact, look how much ground cover we got just from those 4 little guys:

Am I right?  I'm right.

Am I right? I'm right.

Okay, cut a couple thin slices of tomato, first cutting the round bottom off and putting it aside for later.  (Ooh, don’t you love suspense?)  Place evenly around the slice of bread.  Then cut thin slices off your Parmesan wedge and cover the tomato with them.  Not too thin – you definitely want to taste them!

(I don’t know why I feel the need to say “Parmesan wedge.”  Maybe I’m afraid you’ll go get that can of powdery shredded parm from Kraft.  That will NOT make you a Thrilled Cheese, so please upgrade just this once.  Even buy organic parm if you can.)  (Not that I did this time – I’m just sayin’…)

Close up your sandwich and you’re ready to grill!  Ahem, I mean THRILL.  BUT here’s the thing – I discovered right at this crucial moment that there was no butter in the house.  Whoever heard of a grilled cheese made without butter?  How boring.  But then I had a brilliant idea!  Instead of a grilled cheese, I’d make it a THRILLED CHEESE–

Yes, yes, Punky Chef, we get it.  It’s a Thrilled Cheese – you’ve said that like 500 times.  Jeez.

Fine.  The point is, in honor of all the Italianesque flavors in this sandwich (and the fact that I was out of butter) we are going to use the SECRET INGREDIENT instead of butter.  Ready?


Did you hear the horns tooting?  Seriously, this is the greatest thing.  But you don’t want too much or it’ll all just be greasy.  SO, drip barely a tsp of olive oil into the small frying pan and spread it around with your spatula, covering the bottom.  Now, olive oil gets REALLY hot – hotter than butter – so make sure you turn your burner on low or you will have a Charred Cheese sandwich instead.  Wait about thirty seconds, and place your sandwich – cheese side down – in the pan.

While the first side is grilling, dribble a bit more olive oil on top of the bread and spread as best you can with your spatula.  Careful not to pull the sandwich apart by “spreading” too hard.  (TIP: I held the spatula upside-down and drizzled 2 drops of olive oil on the bottom, then turned it over onto the bread like a big, wide pastry spreader.  I thought that was pretty clever.)  (Hey, that rhymes.)  Add a fraction of a pinch of salt to the top of the bread.  Just a little extra “edge” to bring out the pesto, olive, and parm flavors.

After about two minutes, (and if it starts to smoke getta move on), carefully flip the sandwich and press it down with the spatula.  Two more minutes, and SERVE and ENJOY!!!

The sharp, rich flavor of the Parmesan and calamata olives, and the aromatic pesto, will be heightened by that essence of olive oil that you taste somewhere in the happy ether of your mouth.  Yes, you’re welcome.

EXTRA BONUS:  Now, just as an added thrill, I took some fresh chopped romaine, cut up that tomato bottom (that sounds dirty) and also “shaved” some ultra-ultra-thin pieces from the parm wedge with my same serrated knife and VOILA!  I had me a thrilling side salad!  And most of this meal came from my wonderful Farmer’s Market, even including the PESTO, which is now being sold by a dude towards the bottom of the street who always gives free taste samples.  (And you-know-who always accepts them, of course.)

There is a lack of protein in this lunch, unfortunately, but hey – thrills don’t come cheap.  Sometimes, you just gotta live on the edge…  OR, you could add some yummy pinto beans to your side salad: that would take some of that edge off!


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