You all know me by now. I just can’t resist a recipe contest that requires me to think way outside the box. Add in the fact that I am required to use ingredients that I already know and love and I am all in. Ingredients like healthy California walnuts, crisp sweet-tart apples and crunchy celery are already in my fridge and pantry, so let’s get started recreating a something new and different Waldorf salad.
The Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City is well-known for its luxury accommodations as well as its famous salad. Checking out their restaurant menu the current version of the salad includes apples, candied walnuts and celeriac which got me to thinking how to re-mix, remake and refresh those ingredients into something unexpected and delicious.
Like I said you all know me by now, so I bet you’re not surprised I created a fantastic grilled cheese featuring some fresh ingredients. Doesn’t every restaurant menu need the perfect grilled cheese sandwich? Don’t you just love to order that soup and sandwich combo like grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s such a classic. What makes mine Waldorf Astoria worthy? Without a doubt it is the candied California walnut pesto that makes this “refresh” fantastic.
[recipe title=”The Waldorf Grilled Cheese Salad Sandwich with Candied Walnut Pesto” servings=”1″]
1 small clove garlic
3/4 cup packed basil leaves
¼ cup fresh celery leaves
2 tablespoons walnut oil
¼ cup California Walnuts
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 slices firm white bread
1/3 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped celery
½ pink lady apple or apple of your choice, thinly sliced
1/3 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 grapes, optional
With food processor running drop garlic through feed tube and process until finely minced. Add basil, celery leaves and oil; pulse until combined. Add walnuts, sugar and salt; blend until smooth scraping down sides of bowl, if needed. Spread candied walnut pesto evenly on 1 side of each bread slice. On top of the pesto on 1 slice of bread, evenly layer the smoked gouda, celery, apple slices and gruyere. Cover sandwich with remaining bread slice, pesto side down. Gently press sandwich together. Spread half of the mayonnaise over top of sandwich and place mayonnaise side down on non-stick griddle. Grill sandwich, over medium-low heat, for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Spread remaining mayonnaise over bread before flipping to brown the other side. Sandwich is ready when both sides are golden brown and cheese is melted. Top with a skewered grapes, if desired.[/recipe]
PS: For the carnivores in the group…if you must…add some high quality cooked crispy bacon on top of the apples. Or get your own creative juices flowing and refresh your own Waldorf salad.