Project Wonderful

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Carrot and Pesto Grilled Cheese

The other day I was encouraged to think outside the box when my girlfriend sent me a link to's post about roasted carrot grilled cheese sandwich with carrot green pesto. They apparently got the idea from The Hoot Eats recipe.

Carrots in a grilled cheese? Carrot greens as a pesto? SACRILEGE!

But I gave it a try anyway and I have to say it came out pretty damn good. I used some smoked Gouda cheese and that worked out really well. The carrots when roasted have a nice sweetness to them that works with the smokiness of the cheese. And the pesto...oh my god, the pesto! I'm convinced at this point that you could take just about any leafy green and turn it into a pesto. I bet my front lawn would make an awesome pesto (Though I don't think I will actually try that).

Wikipedia: Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy (pesto genovese),[1] and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil, and European pine nuts blended with olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese), and Fiore Sardo (cheese made from sheep's milk).[2] The name is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pestâ (Italian: pestare), which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle.

The carrots were ones that we had grown from seed last fall and we left in the containers till we thought they were done. They took forever to grow and were definitely not as large as I had hoped, but any food you grow yourself is going to taste better than anything you buy at the store.

Here's how I did it. (sorry a few of the pics are blurry):

Here are the carrots, washed, trimmed and ready to pop into the oven. I sprinkled some salt and pepper, drizzled a little olive oil and roasted them in the oven at 450° for about 35 minutes. You want them soft and browned a little.

For the pesto, I saved the best of the carrot greens, washed them really good and tossed them in the food processor.
Toast up some ridiculously expensive pine nuts - or sesame seeds, or walnuts, cashews... any oily nut will work, but they will each impart a different flavor to the pesto.

Toss the nuts on top of the carrot tops, along with salt, a couple cloves of garlic, some Parmesan cheese, the juice of one lemon and just enough extra virgin olive oil. Puree the mix just until its a spreadable paste. Add more or less olive oil to get the consistency you want.

Slice up the cheese into thin slices. Some use Asiago, I went with some nice smoked Gouda here because that's what I had in the fridge. 

To build the grilled cheese, butter the bread, add a spread of pesto, lay down a few of the roasted carrots, add the cheese, more pesto, a sprinkling of grated Romano cheese (or not if you don't have it) and the other slice of buttered bread. Grill it up the way your mamma taught ya.

And voila: roasted carrot and Gouda grilled cheese with carrot top pesto.

Super secret pro tip: add a small pinch of coarse salt to the top before you serve it for an added pop of flavor.

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