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Erika’s unique grilled cheese with homemade pest

Erika Kerekes writes about food just about every day, either on her blog In Erika’s Kitchen or as the LA Cooking Examiner. She’s obsessed with truffles (the fungi) and hosts an annual Trufflepalooza feast at her home each summer. She’s talked truffles and pie on NPR’s “Good Food” radio show; decorated cakes with Kelly Ripa and Buddy “The Cake Boss” Valastro; interviewed culinary celebrities like Curtis Stone, Alice Waters and Giada De Laurentiis; and turned her two sons, ages 13 and 10, into recipe developers and bloggers themselves. Erika co-founded Food Bloggers Los Angeles, a professional networking and educational group that meets monthly. When she’s not writing about food, she works as a product manager at a Fortune 1000 company, helping small businesses learn to embrace social media. A native New Yorker, Erika still can’t believe food grows on trees in her backyard, including the figs and Meyer lemons to which she’s now addicted.

Recipe Details

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: 25 minutes
  • Yield (number of servings): 2 sandwiches

Recipe Overview

I’m going through a kale phase. One of my favorite ways to eat kale is in this smooth, garlicky pesto. The sharp garlic and slightly bitter kale pair perfectly with smooth Tillamook 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.

Simple, yummy ingredients

Ingredients List

  • 2 cups kale leaves, center ribs removed, torn into rough pieces
  • 1/4 cup pistachio nuts, shelled, roasted and salted (measure after shelling)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tsp olive oil, divided
  • 4 thick slices hearty whole-grain bread (I prefer La Brea Bakery’s Whole Grain Loaf)
  • 4 Tillamook Colby Jack slices

Ready for grilling!


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.

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