In Defense of the Grilled Cheese Desk Lunch

June 23, 2015

As a defiant response to sad desk lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty. Each week, we'll be sharing our happiest desk lunches—and we want to see yours, too.

Today: A sandwich that commutes well and plays nicely with laptops.

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Whenever the Food52 editors combine their leftovers to create a masterpiece for our spontaneous "Salad Lunches" (like this wild rice and arugula salad, this cooked radish number, or this cheese and nut masterpiece), I slink away into the corner. More often than not, my only contribution to the bowl is a grilled cheese, which gets chopped up and turned into "croutons." The moral of this story is not how terrible I am at remembering to bring my vegetables into work, but rather that I have an everlasting dedication to buttered-then-fried cheesy bread—be it chopped or whole.


The love affair began just over a year ago when my boyfriend and I started packing sandwiches for lunch every morning. The simple turkey, provolone, and mayonnaise creations suited me just fine, but over the course of the week, the bread would get dry and decreasingly appetizing, until my boyfriend had an epiphany: grilled cheese. He'd grill the sandwiches in the morning, then pop them into a bag to be reheated or re-toasted at work—which I believe is the perfect lunchtime fare for several reasons:

  1. There is nothing that elicit office envy like a plate of gooey, melty cheese (if eliciting office envy is your thing).
  2. They're easy to transport: I either stick mine in a sandwich bag or wrap it in foil, then throw it in my purse for its subway commute.
  3. Come 1:00 PM, there's nothing more satisfying than carbs and cheese—this is irrefutable.
  4. Each sandwich is just big enough to be filling, without leading to post-lunch fatigue.
  5. They're easy to eat while working—no noodles, errant lettuce, or messy fingers (I also believe they're best when eaten with a fork and knife).
  6. Not to be confused with point number 3: They taste delicious.

The sandwich is not anything groundbreaking—but I believe that the addition of mayonnaise to the butter makes a huge difference. If Gabrielle Hamilton's belief that a good sandwich has to have at least three different sources of fat, then this one (with four) must be perfect. And it's living proof that, in the case of desk lunches, sometimes simple is better.

Deskside Grilled Cheese

Makes 1 sandwich

1 to 2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 slices store-bought whole wheat bread
2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons pesto (optional)
2 slices provolone
2 slices thinly-sliced turkey 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Top photo by Mark Weinberg

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