Outerlands Heirloom Tomato with Walnut Pesto Grilled Cheese

Recipe courtesy of Brett Cooper, Outerlands, San Francisco, California
Show: The Big Cheese Episode: Grilled Cheese
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 20 min
Prep: 20 min
Inactive Prep: 30 min
Cook: 30 min
YIELD: 6 sandwiches
LEVEL: Intermediate


  • 6 slices rustic levain or sourdough bread
  • Walnut Pesto, recipe follows
  • 18 thick slices heirloom tomato
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Aged sherry vinegar
  • Fresh Cheese, recipe follows
  • Oil, to coat cast-iron skillet
  • Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups walnuts, toasted
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 pints fresh milk
  • 2 pints fresh cream
  • Sea salt
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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Spread each slice of bread with 2 tablespoons Walnut Pesto. Layer 3 slices tomato on each sandwich. Sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and sherry vinegar. Place 2 tablespoons Fresh Cheese on top. Oil a cast-iron skillet, place the sandwiches in the skillet and cook until the cheese has melted. Garnish with sprigs of basil.

This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional and may have been scaled down from a bulk recipe. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.
Blanch the basil leaves for 2 seconds in boiling water. Allow to cool.

In a food processor (or using a pestle and mortar), combine the blanched basil, walnuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, oil, garlic, lemon juice and salt to taste. Work to a chunky, partially pureed consistency.
To make the fresh cheese, put the milk, cream and a pinch of salt in a pan and heat to 185 degrees F over low heat.

Meanwhile, zest the lemons; reserve the zest, and then juice the lemons. Combine 1/4 cup lemon juice with the vinegar.

When the milk has reached temperature, turn off the heat and slowly whisk in the lemon juice and vinegar mixture. You should start to see curds form within 1 minute. Place a lid on the pan and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Strain through cheesecloth and cool the curds. (You can save the whey for other purposes like shakes.) Add the lemon zest to the curds and season with salt and pepper.



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