So, you whipped up a batch of kale pesto last week, and you had a bit leftover… not quite enough to freeze for another batch of pasta, but enough that it seems silly to throw away. A few tablespoons worth, maybe. I found myself in this exact situation this past week – or, almost this exact situation. Turns out, the monster bunch of kale I used to make my pesto actually produced enough pesto for TWO one-pound batches of pasta… and then some. I mixed some of the pesto with linguine for dinner (and several leftover lunches for my husband), froze another portion to have on hand for an easy dinner later, and still had about a quarter cup left. I threw it in the fridge, knowing I’d come up with a way to use it later.
Well, later came – and it was yet another exceptionally frigid day, with a threat of snow. By the time I got home from work, I was exhausted and freezing, and wanted nothing more than to put on my warmest sweats, and make dinner in less than 15 minutes. Enter: leftover kale pesto! A quick scan of the fridge produced two great ways to use up the leftovers. First, grilled cheese sandwiches, fancied up with some kale pesto, and crisped prosciutto. Second? A delicious dip for raw vegetables that took approximately 8 seconds to make. And BAM, dinner was done!
Grilled Cheese with Kale Pesto and Prosciutto
4 slices sandwich bread (I used a fairly hearty white bread)
2 T leftover kale pesto
2 one ounce slices of provolone cheese (mozzarella or monterey jack would be fine, too)
3 thin slices of prosciutto
2 T grated asiago cheese or parmesan cheese
1.) Start by crisping up your prosciutto. Heat a small skillet over medium heat, and throw in the prosciutto slices; it should take just a minute or two on each side for the prosciutto to render some fat, crisp up, and turn golden brown. Remove the prosciutto to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
2.) On two of the slices of bread, spread a tablespoon of the kale pesto. Top with the provolone cheese, then the prosciutto, then the asiago or parmesan. Top each sandwich with the remaining slices of bread.
3.) Heat a skillet over medium low heat, and melt about half a teaspoon of butter in the center of the pan. Most people spread softened butter directly on to the bread for their grilled cheese; personally, I find that, while it results in a crispy, buttery, brown crust on the sandwich, it’s a little TOO buttery and greasy for my liking (and I LOVE me some butter, trust me). By melting the butter directly into the skillet, you’re able to use a lot less, and still get the desired brown, crispy crust. ANYWAYS (my apologies for my lecture on Grilled Cheese Etiquette), melt the bit of butter in the center of the pan, and then add your sandwich to the pan.
4.) Cook each sandwich for about 2-3 minutes per side, until the bread is golden brown, and the cheese is fully melted (I often loosely tent the pan with foil, to help speed up the cheese melting process). Add a bit more butter to the pan when you flip the sandwich, so the second side will brown nicely as well.
5.) Allow the sandwiches to rest for a couple minutes after removing them from the pan, so the cheese can firm up slightly, then cut in half and serve.
Of course, this “recipe” is about as flexible as they come. If you don’t have prosciutto? Use bacon! If you don’t want to use meat? Don’t! If you think tomatoes would really make this grilled cheese amazing? Put some in! Got some leftover caramelized onions looking for a home? Add ’em to your sandwich!
To make the vegetable dip, here’s what you need to do: place 1/3 cup of plain greek yogurt or sour cream into a bowl. Add a tablespoon of leftover kale pesto. Stir. Serve with raw vegetables or crackers of your choice. (It may have taken me 1,000 words to tell you how to make a grilled cheese, but I can be succinct about a two-ingredient dip, dammit!)
The point of all of these very, very many words: even if you HATE leftovers (*Tina quietly raises her hand*), you can often make them into something totally different than their original state. Leftover meatballs can become meatball pizza! Extra ham from Easter turns into a delicious dip! A pesto that began its life as a pasta sauce is now a sandwich spread!
I apologize for the excessive use of exclamation points this morning,