Recipe courtesy of Brett Cooper

Outerlands Heirloom Tomato with Walnut Pesto Grilled Cheese

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 20 min
  • Prep: 20 min
  • Inactive: 30 min
  • Cook: 30 min
  • Yield: 6 sandwiches
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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

Walnut Pesto:

6 fresh basil leaves

2 cups walnuts, toasted

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely minced

Juice of 1 lemon

Sea salt

Fresh Cheese:

5 pints fresh milk

2 pints fresh cream

Sea salt

4 Meyer lemons

1/4 cup white distilled vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. 
  2. 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.

Walnut Pesto:

  1. 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.

Fresh Cheese:

  1. 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. 
  2. Meanwhile, zest the lemons; reserve the zest, and then juice the lemons. Combine 1/4 cup lemon juice with the vinegar. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.