Grilled Cheddar Bacon Pear With Green Garlic Pesto

Grilled Cheddar, Bacon & Pear with Green Garlic Pesto

Disclosure: Cabot Creamery compensated The Recipe ReDux (co-owned by ReganMillerJones, Inc. and Teaspoon Communications), to sponsor this recipe contest. We are therefore not eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. Opinions expressed are our own.

I’ve tasted green garlic and garlic scapes only at restaurants, but upon inspiration from my gardening guru sister and Deanna’s simple Tomato and Garlic Scape Pasta Sauce recipe, I planted some of my mother-in-law’s beautiful heirloom garlic last fall. That’s right, I planted something I’ve never really seen (except in the form of tiny green flecks); actually, this concept has become quite fashionable – it’s called grow what you can’t find or is too expensive to buy.

My understanding of the definitions of green garlic vs. garlic scapes is this: The green garlic looks similar to a green onion with green leaves that are about 12 inches long and usually contain the young whiteish-purple garlic bulb attached to the leaves. Garlic scapes are long often curled green garlic leaves that stretch 2-3 feet and are not attached to a bulb; farmers cut the scapes to produce healthy garlic bulbs that are later dug up and dried to produce a garlic head.

Green garlic in Serena's garden

I’ve been unable to wait until my green garlic grows into garlic scapes. So I snipped off the the shorter leaves – but left the bulb behind to grow a bit more…since I do not have a garlic farm, but only about 5 garlic plants! The question was, what to do with these green leaves I’ve been warned can be quite pungent and over-powering? The answer, of course is to make an ultimate comfort food: grilled cheese sandwich. The result: Grilled Cheddar, Bacon & Pear with Green Garlic Pesto.

Since we’re excited about the sponsorship of a Recipe ReDux member recipe contest, “It’s New To You” – featuring Cabot reduced-fat cheeses paired with a new ingredient you’ve never cooked with, Deanna and I collaborated on this post. She took the beautiful photos of this delicious sandwich. She also reminded me that Cabot’s 75% Reduced-Fat Cheddar is the perfect cheese for the pesto because it has superior “grateability,” i.e. it grates better than most Cheddars due to its reduced moisture content so it’s a great swap in for Parmesan cheese when finely grated.

This sandwich is based on this simple one from Relish magazine; but it has received many adaptations over the month to provide comforting family suppers at our house. I knew I wanted to make a fresh green garlic pesto, so I gave the sandwich a healthy makeover too. The results were delicious with the fresh pear and the nutty cheddar complementing the tangy, garlicky, walnut pesto. And a little bacon just makes everything taste even better.

Grilled Cheddar, Bacon & Pear with Green Garlic Pesto

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Grilled Cheddar, Bacon & Pear With Green Garlic Pesto

  • Yield: 4 sandwiches 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • For the pesto:
  • 3 green garlic shoots, sliced
  • 1/4 cup 75% Reduced Fat Cabot Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • freshly-ground black pepper
  • 23 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • For the sandwich:
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked until desired doneness (microwave on paper towels for quick clean-up)
  • 3 ounces 75% Reduced Fat Cabot Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 soft-ripe pear, cored and thinnly sliced
  • 8 slices whole grain crusty bread
  • 1 tablespoon Cabot salted butter

Instructions

  1. Process green garlic, parmesan cheese, walnuts, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil in food processor until blended. If desired, add additional 1 tablespoon of olive oil in steady stream to running processor.
  2. Spread one side of bread with about 1 teaspoons pesto on sliced crusty bread. Top with 1 bacon slice (broken in half), about 1/2 cup shredded cheese, 3-4 slices pear. Top with another slice of bread spread with 1/2 teaspoon garlic pesto.
  3. Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in large cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet. Cook 2 sandwiches slowly on med-low heat until cheese begins to melt, almost 10 min on one side, flip and cook about 6-7 min until golden on the other side. (Slow cooking guarantees a perfectly melted inside, with golden crispy outside.)

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