Cocktail Recipes, Spirits, and Local Bars

Kale Melt with Gouda and Walnut-Basil Pesto

Kale Melt with Gouda and Walnut-Basil Pesto

Raw kale salad may have its health benefits, but it's arguably not the most fun way to eat your vegetables. If you're looking to fast-track this, because you absolutely cannot wait to eat, use store-bought pesto instead.


  • 1/2 Cup walnuts
  • 1 Cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 Cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 Cup plus 4 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for brushing the bread
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5-6 Ounces kale, stems removed, cut or torn into large chunks
  • 4 large slices thick whole-wheat or grain bread
  • 2 Ounces aged Gouda, shaved or sliced


Calories Per Serving704

Folate equivalent (total)214µg54%

Pesto Grilled Cheese

This Pesto Grilled Cheese takes melty, cheesy sandwiches to a whole new level! You can foget boring sandwiches, this baby is filled with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and provolone cheese.

Now doesn't that look delicous? It would be perfect served alongside a bowl of Tomato Basil Soup.

Kale and Gorgonzola Swirls

Yummy little pastries swirled with kale, garlic and gorgonzola. Makes a delicious, easy appetizer!


  • 1 piece Frozen Puff Pastry, Thawed
  • 1 bunch Kale
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • ⅓ cups Gorgonzola Cheese, Crumbled
  • ¼ cups Grated Parmesan Cheese


Preheat oven to 400°. Thaw puff pastry according to package directions. De-stem kale and chop. Mince two cloves of garlic. Melt butter in a deep saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add kale and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until kale is wilted. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Roll out thawed puff pastry on a floured surface to create a 13″ square. Brush with half of egg mixture (egg mixed with water). Spread kale out to cover the entire surface. Sprinkle cheeses evenly over kale. Roll up tightly, pinch roll together and slice into 1/2″ pieces using a sharp knife. Place slices 12 at a time onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden. Serve immediately. Makes 24 swirls.

Best-Ever Pesto

This Genovese specialty bursts with the summery flavor of basil, and we love it for way more than just pasta. (Though that's pretty great too!) Try tossing your roasted potatoes with a couple tablespoons, or mix a spoonful into mayo for a ridiculously addictive dipping sauce.

How long will it last after I make it?

Fresh pesto will last 5 to 7 days in the fridge, or up to 8 months in the freezer! We love freezing our leftover pesto in ice cube trays so we can pop out a single serving any time we're craving a bowl of pasta.

Can I do the whole recipe in the food processor?

Totally! We like stirring the cheese at the end for texture, but if you like a smoother pesto feel free to throw everything at once!

Can I make this recipe without a food processor?

Absolutely! Traditionally pesto was made using a marble mortar and a wooden pestle, so if you happen to have a mortar and pestle you're in business. You can also chop everything by hand, just make sure your knife is nice and sharp to minimize damage to the basil.

What's a good replacement for pine nuts?

You can use pretty much any kind of nut you like. Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or even pecans are all great substitutions. You can even use seeds like sunflower or pumpkin seeds!

Can I use a different cheese instead of Parmesan?

Absolutely! Any hard, salty aged cheese would work best. We like Pecorino or Manchego, but even Gouda would work if you're a fan!

Kale Melt with Gouda and Walnut-Basil Pesto - Recipes

The other night I was discussing reality television with a friend of mine.
We both agreed that reality TV was somehow interesting at first, but the fact that it's gotten so over-abused proves that its 15 minutes have largely passed.
Nowadays, every channel has a reality show about pretty much everything: drive a truck on ice -> get a show have a bunch of kids -> get a show have an embarrassing complaint/lump -> get a show make your daughter a star -> get a show be a complete idiot -> get a show.
It’s not even interesting anymore.
Even cooking shows are getting boring and old to watch.
There are too many of them: Top Chef, Master Chef, Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, The Taste, The Kitchen, The Next Food Network Star, the list goes on forever.

Don’t get me wrong, I most certainly appreciate the creative input. You learn a lot about creativity, creative thinking, and creative process in these shows.
I also understand that the audience is hungry for good story, and that’s what the producers are going to fed them.
But what really bothers me in these reality show is the overly dramatic back stories that fill them.
I resent the idea that in order to succeed in a cooking competition there must have been some sort of tragedy in the contestants’ lives at some point. Even if there has been, I don’t want to know about it all I’m interested in is how good they are at cooking.
I honestly don’t see the link between being talented in the kitchen and the fact that the contestant comes from a poor upbringing, has overcome a disease in the past, or has lost a loved one.

Not to mention, that most of the time these backstories seem (and probably are) fabricated.
You often read how people lives are often manipulated into mass-marketed entertainment in these shows.
At times it feels that their only purpose is to reduce contestants to either good or bad characters. The emphasis is often more on the emotional explosion than the cooking itself.
Not to mention the part where contestants are humiliated in front of the cameras, really makes me cringe.
I don’t find particular pleasure in watching people being degraded.
It seems as reality TV is the networks way to avoid quality programming while still making a profit.
I’d rather watch a well edited and high quality show - such as No Reservations - than kitchen utensils, pots, pans, and plates thrown like a frisbee.

Still, it’s on one of these shows that I got the inspiration for this recipe (and btw I’m not going to mention which show!) During an episode a contestant made a mouthwatering grilled cheese with sauteed mushrooms, kale and cheese.
It looked so good, I was like “I should make this asap!”
Then it dawned on me, instead of grilled cheese, why not using potato skins?
What a brilliant idea that has been!

These potato skins really hit the spot and I didn't regret even one delicious bite.
Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, toasty on top, and a little decadent. Green enough that you won’t feel the need to make a salad on the side.
I do hope you make ‘em because I can’t tell you enough how delicious these are.
As always you can take liberties here: using another green of your choice (or basil pesto for that matter) you could use Parmesan, cream cheese or goat cheese instead of the Gouda I used.
I guarantee you, these potato skins will become one of your weeknight favorites.

Serves 6 as a side (or 3 as a hearty main)

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
8 ounces white button (cremini) mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
¼ cup white wine or broth
salt and pepper to taste

6 red Idaho potatoes or 3 Russet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup sour cream
½ cup coarsely grated gouda (or cheddar, gruyere, or comté)

1 bunch of kale (roughly ½ lb / 226 gr), de-stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
⅓ cup walnuts
juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 tablespoons Romano cheese, grated
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup cooking water, plus more if needed

In a skillet over medium-high heat melt the butter together with the oil. Add onion and saute’ until translucent, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Add the garlic and thyme and saute’ until fragrant, about a minute.
Add the sliced cremini mushrooms and saute’ until they turn golden brown and begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
Add the wine (or broth), deglaze the pan and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley and remove from heat. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) and place a rack in the middle.
Gently scrub potatoes but do not peel. Pierce a few times with a fork.
Place on a large baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes (40 minutes if you’re using Russet potatoes).
When they're cool enough to handle, slice the potatoes in half, scoop out most of the flesh but leave a little bit attached to the skin to help them hold their shape (leave about ¼-inch of skin and potato.)
Melt the butter and combine with olive oil. Brush the insides and outsides of the skins and bake for another 5-10 minutes, skin side up, until nice and crispy.

Bring a heavily salted pot of water to a roiling boil. Add garlic and kale (making sure to submerge it in the water) and blanch for 3 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon fish the kale and the garlic out of the water and transfer to a colander. Allow to cool slightly and using the back of a spoon (or your hands if you dare) squeeze out some of the water.
In a food processor add walnuts pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the blanched kale, garlic and lemon juice. Pulse until the kale is broken up and nearly smooth. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides. Throw-in Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese and red pepper flakes (if using). Pulse again and while the food processor is running slowly add the water until the pesto reaches a creamy consistency.
Transfer kale pesto to a bowl and using a spoon stir in the olive oil until it’s completely absorbed.
If the kale pesto looks too thick, add more water (not oil), one tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

In a large bowl mash up the potato flesh until it becomes one cohesive mass. Add the sour cream, ¼ cup of the gouda cheese, the kale pesto (I used about 4 tablespoons), and season with salt and pepper.
Heap filling in the prepared potato skin, top with mushrooms and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup gouda cheese.
Pop in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes to finish.

One serving yields 317 calories, 19 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbs, and 9 grams of protein.

Kale Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

These Easy Kale Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms with a Crunchy Walnut Topping are a healthy twist on a classic restaurant-style appetizer! A gluten-free, paleo and vegan diet-friendly finger food that you can enjoy without any guilt.

Have you ever had greasy, tasteless, mushy stuffed mushrooms before? I know I have. Fortunately, I know I will never have this happen to me again, thanks to this genius, easy Stuffed Mushroom recipe!

Why this Easy Stuffed Mushrooms recipe works:

This Kale Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms recipe is a delicious healthy twist on restaurant-style stuffed mushrooms. Each mushroom is bursting with flavor from superfood kale, creamy artichokes, garlic, crunchy walnuts, and fresh parsley.

These gorgeous vegetarian appetizers literally melt in your mouth, while the hearty walnut topping lends them a beautiful crunch. Healthy, gluten-free, paleo and vegan diet friendly— these easy Stuffed Mushrooms are a light finger food you can enjoy without the guilt.

I love stuffed mushrooms and when ordering them, I expect to taste both the mushroom and the filling. I want the baked stuffed mushroom to be still intact and not overbaked or gummy-ish in texture.

Also, I really enjoy a nice crunch on top of my filling. What I totally dislike, is a greasy feel or taste to my easy stuffed mushrooms, or a mushy texture. If you feel the same way, don’t ever miss out on these Kale Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms!

The recipe for Kale Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms is so flavorful and easy and makes for such a healthy appetizer! It’s perfect for a gluten-free diet, vegan diet, paleo diet – really for anyone who wants to keep things on the light meatless side!

How to make these Easy Stuffed Mushrooms with Kale Pesto:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the mushrooms on a baking sheet cap side down with the mushroom cavity facing upwards.

In a small bowl, mix the oats, thyme, parsley, walnuts, salt, pepper and then add the olive oil and mix all the ingredients together. Fill each mushroom with about a tablespoon of the pesto (depending on the size of your mushrooms) and press it well to fill out any space.

You may fill your Kale Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms just to the level of the mushroom top or you may overfill and make a little crown—it’s entirely optional. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of the walnut mixture on top of the filling and press it down to make it stick to the pesto.

Bake the Kale Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms for 8-12 minutes (depending on the mushroom size) until the cremini mushrooms are softened and the pesto kale filling is warmed up. Serve them fresh out of the oven.

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Recipe Summary

  • 1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 cup kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 4 white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.

Place squash skin side down on prepared baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 1 hour. Remove from oven cool for 10 minutes. Once squash is cool enough to handle, scrape flesh into string-like strands with a fork. Place in a bowl and set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion cook and stir until onion begins to turn translucent. Stir in kale and mushrooms reduce heat to medium low.

Stir in squash, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes cook for 2 minutes. Remove from stove and place squash mixture in a large bowl.

Stir olive oil and pesto into the squash mixture. Slowly add grated Parmesan cheese, stirring until evenly mixed.

Well, I won't be making this again. Even though I enjoyed it. DD said she didn't like the onions. DH said he didn't like the kale. Sheesh. People are hard to please. At least I got to try a new kind of cheese. And FWIW, I used my panini press and it worked perfectly.

I apologize for violating the cardinal rule of recipe sites by making significant changes to a recipe then reviewing, but I feel this is revolutionary and had to put my two cents in. I strongly dislike kale, but have been looking for palatable ways to include this super food in my diet. I had to sub cheddar for the raclette, because that's what I had. I cooked the kale according to directions, but followed another reviewer's advice and processed it. To the onions, which I diced, I added two diced shallots and a diced leek. I grilled my sandwich on a cast iron griddle on the stove top and did not use the oven. This was a phenomenal sandwich, and the best way to eat kale I have found. Thanks so much for this recipe.

excellent sandwich with great flavor. one suggestion. if you have people in your life that won't eat vegetables, after cooking put the kale and onion in a food processor. my kids wouldn't eat this when I prepared it per the instructions, but devoured it when the vegetables were chopped up.

This sandwich was WONDERFUL! Was worried my husband would not like it as he has a traditional southern pallet! He said it was delicious and lots of different favors made it very interesting. I used the cheese recommended. Which I had to go to the City to purchase but it was worth the trip. The man at the cheese shop warned me that the smell of the cheese might surprise me but also said it melts into a wonderful flavor. Will definitely make again. Would love to serve it to special guests. It's that good!

I thought this was tasty, but a bit of work for a grilled cheese sandwich. I used Dave's Killer Bread (70 cal and 100% delicious). I could not find the raclette cheese (I bet that would have put it over the top!). I used Trader Joe's cheddar-gruyere but 3.5 oz did not equal one cup, more like 1/2 cup I grated enough for 1/4 cup per sandwich. I enjoyed these much more the day after!

I thought this recipe was really good and super easy to make. I used smoked gouda cuz it's my favorite and was able to make everything in one pan. I made this with the tomato poblano soup and it was a great pairing. It's still grilled cheese and tomato soup, but better tasting and a little different.

I added shredded carrots to the onions, and everyone loved it.

So good! A little intensive for a grilled cheese, but worth it! I made them brie and a little pesto because I had those on hand, and they were delicious. The vinegar in the onions is key. I put some earth balance butter on the bread and just flipped them in the pan. Definitely will make again.

Good flavors, just a bit too much work to put in. I think I would save this for when I want something special.

Best grilled cheese EVER! Both my husband and I loved it. You really must use the raclette. Its slight "funk" is just perfect with the earthy kale and sweet onions. This will definitely go into our meatless Monday rotation.

Back to make again. Used Trader Joe's Gruyere and cheddar mix. So good!

I really liked these grilled cheese sandwiches. I used gruyere as my raclette. The recipe does use a lot of cookware, but you can consolidate easily for cleanup if you think ahead. I used a small skillet for the onion saute. Since the instructions say to remove the pan from the heat after adding the kale, I just poured boiling water out of my tea kettle onto the kale in a bowl. Then I re-used the griddle pan I still had on the stove from making pancakes for breakfast to toast the bread then moved it to a foil covered baking sheet before adding the cheese so I wouldn't drop it all over my stove or pans, then I just tossed the foil when done. I served the sandwiches with Pacific Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup for a quickie lunch. It was yummy.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed these sandwiches. The balance between the kale and the onions was great. My husband enjoyed this recipe too, but thought that the sandwiches were missing something. While I would enjoy eating these sandwiches again, the amount of pans would make me think twice. My husband definitely did not enjoy washing 4 pans for grilled cheese. I served with the tomato and poblano soup, which was easy to make and a nice accompaniment.

Really great. To cut back on pans, I toasted the bread in the same pan as I had cooked the onions. We need to add more kale next time. Used gruyere smoked cheese which was grand. Meatless Monday on Saturday!

This sandwich is really tasty. It's only drawback is that it uses a lot of cookware - 2 saute pans, baking pan, saucepan, cutting board, cheese grater, colander, etc. I used 2 kale leaves per sandwich because my leaves must have been small, and I did the gruyere substitution. I will definitely make this again, because it was simple to make and it was delicious.

Not horrible, but I wouldn't make this one again. The sandwich was a bit "dry" and the flavor was lacking. Granted, I did not use the recommended cheese, so maybe that made all the difference in excellent vs. the "blah" sandwich we ended up eating. Overall I thought the recipe just took too much time and too many steps / dishes for a sandwich (

45 minutes when all was said & done) so we won't be making again. P.S. - the poblano-tomato soup suggested with this sandwich turned out to be absolutely flavorless after adding a lot more spice and trying a few other tricks, to make it taste better, this soup was tossed. Not a keeper for us.

So tasty - the raclette was worth seeking out and melted like a dream. I chopped up my cooked kale as another reviewer suggested - good tip. I also piled extra kale on each sandwich, since it's barely detectable between the yummy cheese and the delicious caramelized onions. Wonderful vegetarian sandwich!

Delicious. My favorite part: I couldn't taste the kale. Next time I'll pile more on.

Lovely - and easy. The sandwiches were so filling and satisfying, and mixed so well with the soup (pre-slice the kale for easier bites and line both sides of the bread with it - you'll thank me later). That said - double the soup recipe. The picture lied (as do soooo many Cooking Light pictures) and there is no serving dish on this earth that would look like that and hold as little as the recipe yields. But at so low of calories and such a great burst of flavor - double it. Fresh Fresh Fresh is the flavor, and makes a great dip for the sandwich as well. Yum. Other soup tip - maybe cook it a bit longer. Will help break down the fiber and change the mouth feel from blended vegetables to actual soup.

I felt like such a grown up eating this sandwich. I did cook the kale a little different. I also used olive oil instead of canola oil. I put about 1 oz of olive oil in the pan and added the onion and kale, salt & pepper and cooked until the onions were soft and the kale bright green (about 3 minutes). I omitted the vinegar as I forgot it was in the recipe, but really didn't miss it. I also used Applewood Smoked Gruyere Cheese instead of raclette cheese as I live in a rural area and couldn't find raclette cheese. I actually made it more like a grilled cheese sandwich and put the vegetables on the bottom and added both cheeses (Parm & gruyere) on top of the vegetables then added the other slice of bread. I used olive oil spray and browned one side at a time. It was so good. I could have just eaten the vegetables alone! Who knew so much flavor from kale and red onions?? This was a delicious, filling and gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.

(30 votes, average: 4.27 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6


A swirl of basil pesto brings so much flavor to this classic comfort food! This pesto mac and cheese features Havarti cheese for ultra creaminess.


  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni or other short pasta shape (we used gigli pasta)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk at room temperature
  • 2 cups shredded Havarti or mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons Basil Pesto or store bought basil pesto


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook just until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the flour to create a paste. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and continue whisking until the sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Stir in the shredded cheese and continue stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Fold in the pesto.
  3. Add the pasta, stirring to combine, and cook just until the pasta is warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


Reprinted with permission from Two Peas and Their Pod Cookbook by Maria Lichty

Keywords: Pesto Mac and Cheese, Mac and Cheese, Kid Friendly, Comfort Food Recipes, Havarti Mac and Cheese