A gourmet grilled cheese sandwich is only as good as what's inside it! Melty havarti cheese and spicy green harissa make this one something special.
This green harissa gourmet grilled cheese recipe is what I make when nothing but a grilled cheese will do. It has all the essentials of a good grilled cheese sandwich – crunchy, toasty bread and gooey cheese – but a handful of spinach and a slather of green harissa add an extra dimension of freshness and flavor. It’s lightly spicy and totally delicious – hands down the best grilled cheese I’ve had!
The green harissa is really the star of the show here. Made with charred peppers, garlic, lemon, spices, cilantro, pepitas, and olive oil, it has a similar texture to pesto and a delicious spiced flavor. It’s easy to make in the food processor, and it really jazzes up this gourmet grilled cheese recipe. I hope you love it as much as I do!
How to Make Grilled Cheese
A basic grilled cheese requires just 3 ingredients:
- Sliced bread – Sourdough bread is my favorite!
- Cheese – I like havarti.
- Butter or olive oil – As usual, extra-virgin olive oil is my pick.
Take this basic combination to the next level with a punchy spread, fresh veggies, or a mix of cheeses. I make my gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with havarti, green harissa, and spinach, but really, your filling options are endless. Swap in your favorite cheese, and skip the harissa if you like. A slather of Dijon mustard, chipotle sauce, or pesto would be great in its place. If you’re not in the mood for spinach, leave it out, or replace it with thin tomato or pepper slices, roasted tomatoes, roasted red peppers, pickled red onions, caramelized onions, or arugula.
Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, it’s time to cook! If you’re using it, slather the harissa onto a slice of bread and add some spinach and a thick layer of grated cheese. Top with the remaining slice of bread, drizzle with olive oil (or spread with butter), and grill your sandwich on both sides until the bread becomes golden brown and the cheese melts.
Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich Tips
Want to make the best gourmet grilled cheese you’ve ever had? Just follow these easy tips!
- Better ingredients = a better sandwich. As with all simple recipes, the better your ingredients are, the better your grilled cheese will be. I like mine with sourdough or good crusty bread and havarti or sharp cheddar cheese.
- Use a good melting cheese. Because higher-moisture cheeses yield the best oozy, pull-apart sandwiches, steer clear of crumbly, hard types of cheese like Parmesan or manchego. I use havarti here (Roth Cheese is a favorite), but gruyere, gouda, provolone, mozzarella, and white cheddar cheeses (or a mix!) are all great choices for a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.
- Cover for even cooking. If the bread is browning faster than the cheese is melting, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. The trapped heat will help melt the cheese before the bread gets too brown.
- Save the leftover harissa. If you try this green harissa recipe (and I hope you do!), you’ll end up with some leftover. Save it for a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich on another day, or use it in something else entirely. I recommend scooping it onto tacos, avocado toast, grilled veggies, pizza slices, falafel, or a chickpea shawarma wrap! And for a more traditional (red) harissa recipe, check out page 281 of my new cookbook, Love & Lemons Every Day.
More Favorite Comfort Food Recipes
If you love this recipe, try one of these classic comfort foods next:
- Homemade Mac and Cheese
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- Easy Baked Ziti
- Best Vegetarian Lasagna
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Easy Vegetarian Chili
- Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
For more easy dinner recipes, check out this post!
Gourmet Grilled Cheese
- 2 green Anaheim peppers, or 1 poblano
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- 3/4 cup cilantro
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- 8 sourdough bread slices
- A few handfuls of spinach leaves
- 2 to 3 cups grated havarti cheese
- Extra-virgin oil, for grilling
- Make the green harissa. Char the peppers over a gas burner or under a broiler until the skin is blackened all over. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. Slice off the stem and place the peppers, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, salt, honey, cilantro, pepitas and a few grinds of black pepper into a food processor and pulse until combined. Drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth.
- Make the grilled cheese. Slather the green harissa on the insides of each slice of bread. Assemble with spinach leaves and cheese. Pre-heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Brush the outsides of the sandwich with olive oil and grill on each side until the cheese is melted.