Thursday, April 5, 2012

Grilled cheese with kale-pistachio pesto

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I'm on a kale kick. I'm putting kale in just about everything these days: smoothies, salads, quiche, soup.

So when Tillamook asked me to create a signature grilled cheese to celebrate Grilled Cheese Lovers' Day (it's April 12, in case you want to plan a party or something), my first thought was...kale. How could I get kale into a gooey, creamy, crispy grilled cheese sandwich?

I've been focused on kale for health reasons, but I have to tell you that this grilled Tillamook Colby Jack with kale-pistachio pesto might be the best grilled cheese sandwich I've ever eaten.

The key is the contrast. Creamy, mild cheese. Hearty whole-grain bread. And a smooth paste combining the slight bitterness of the kale, a sharp touch of garlic, and the salty pistachios. I used olive oil on the outside instead of butter to let the flavors of the kale pesto shine through.


For the record, the 13-year-old, who doesn't even like grilled cheese, liked this one. The 10-year-old, who loves grilled cheese but prefers it unadulterated, ate this grilled cheese with kale pesto two days in a row. He'd be eating it still except we finished all the Colby Jack.

You'll have more kale-pistachio pesto than you need for the grilled cheese. It keeps well (refrigerated). Try it on pasta or mixed into cooked rice.

Disclosure: No one paid me anything to write this post. I did, however, get some awesome Tillamook cheese samples, which my family decimated.

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Grilled Tillamook Colby Jack cheese with kale-pistachio pesto
One of my favorite ways to eat kale is in this smooth, garlicky pesto. The sharp garlic and slightly bitter kale pair perfectly with Tillamook's smooth Colby Jack cheese. Griddled on thick slices of hearty whole-grain bread, this is one of the best and most unusual grilled cheese sandwiches I've ever tasted.
  • 2 cups raw kale leaves, center ribs removed, torn into rough pieces
  • 1/4 cup pistachio nuts, shelled, roasted and salted (measure after shelling)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 4 thick slices hearty whole-grain bread
  • 4 slices Tillamook Colby Jack cheese
Put the kale, pistachios, garlic and 1/4 cup olive oil in a blender or food processor. Process until a smooth paste forms.Using a pastry brush, coat the outsides of the bread slices with the remaining 2 tsp olive oil. Lay the bread oiled side down on a cutting board. Spread 1 tsp of the kale-pistachio pesto on the inside of each slice of bread (reserve the remaining pesto for another use - it's great on pasta). Divide the Tillamook Colby Jack cheese between two slices of the bread, then top with the remaining slices.Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sandwiches and grill until the cheese is melted and the outsides of the sandwiches are golden brown, watching carefully to make sure the bread doesn't burn. Remove the sandwiches from the skillet, cut in half, and serve immediately.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 sandwiches


Anonymous said...

I have trouble finding pesto recipes that don't have pine nuts in them (food allergy). I never considered pistachios. Thanks for the tip! Kale is a favorite of mine, too. I can't wait to try it!

Erika Kerekes said...

Anon - I often use toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds in pesto when I'm cooking for people with nut allergies. Any nut will work, really.

The Wimpy Vegetarian said...

Great idea with the kale pesto!! I make a similar kale pesto that I toss in pasta or with cauliflower. Love this!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

Never thought of making kale pesto. I make a lot of pesto in the summer and have tried the traditional basil on grilled cheese. This looks wonderful, I'll give it a whirl!

dla seniorów said...

Great recipe with kale pesto. Never hear it before:) Thanks!

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