Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar

Dinner, Sandwiches, Snacks, Vegetarian

Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar

As you may know, I’m what the world considers a grilled cheese enthusiast. I’m not sure there’s another sandwich that can make me feel all the feelings of warmth, comfort and just plain ol’ fun. For this post, I teamed up with Tillamook, the farmer-owned Co-Op from Oregon, to inspire you to create your own all natural, veggie-filled, gooey, delicious sandwiches perfect for a spring party with friends. Every single party in life should have a Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar. HELLO! This is the definition of comforting fun!

Spring is finally here, which means all of my favorite farmer’s market vegetables are back in season. I always miss them in winter. Winter veggies aren’t my favorite, but spring? YASS! These grilled cheeses aren’t difficult to execute, no, not at all, but like anything simple, the amazingness is in the details. This means paying attention to each and every ingredient carefully.

Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar

We’ll start with the most important part: da cheese. Tillamook cheese is naturally aged, made with milk from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones and contains no artificial ingredients. This is the real deal when it comes to cheese. Tillamook has actually been making cheese for over 100 years! I vote for giving people a few options. I went with Tillamook Sharp Cheddar (a classic), Tillamook Pepper Jack (for the people who love spicy a.k.a. me), Smoked Medium Cheddar and lastly, Smoked Black Pepper Cheddar (my favorite).

Also, don’t be shy to mix and match them. My favorite combo was sharp cheddar with the smoked black pepper cheddar—it was glorious!

Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar

I picked up fresh veggies from the Atwater Farmer’s Market to compliment the cheeses and I caramelized onions and roasted some rainbow carrots. I sliced up some watermelon radishes thinly using my favorite mandolin and was sure to include some Tillamook Unsalted Butter. Tillamook is best known for their cheese but their butter, yogurt and ice cream are amazing too! I usually just throw the butter in the pan but setting it out at room temperature makes it easier for people to add however much they like to the outside slices of bread.

Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar

With the tops of the carrots, don’t throw them out! I made carrot top pesto. The pesto has a lovely sweetness to it, just like carrots, and it means there’s no waste what-so-ever.

I put a bunch of leeks in a pan with a few pats of butter and was aiming to make buttered leeks. But then I turned my back, got distracted, and well, they overcooked. I was about to dump them but then I tasted them and OMG so good. Sometimes the best discoveries are pure accidents. Crispy leeks are my new love in life. They stayed.

Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar

I also roasted some broccoli and asparagus.

Oh, and bread. For this bar, I set out sourdough and challah which I got from the local bakery, Bread Lounge here in LA. Other good bread options would be brioche or I bet even pumpernickel would be awesome. Honestly, if it’s great quality bread, soft and toasts well, you’re good to go.

Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar

Here are the marriages of cheese with vegetables I loved.

My favorite, by far, was the crispy leeks and smoked medium cheddar. This cheddar from Tillamook is smoked with real hickory wood, which means the smoky flavor in the cheese is really pleasant. Honestly, not the most attractive one out of all of the veggie grilled cheeses, further proving my theory that ugly food is sometimes my favorite food.

The second place veggie grilled cheese winner was the roasted carrot, carrot top pesto and smoked black pepper cheddar combo. Man, that smoked black pepper white cheddar is my jam! I want to make a mac n cheese with it stat.

This whole grilled cheese bar shebang was sooo delicious and exactly what you want now that we’re getting in the season where fresh farmer’s market produce is everywhere.

Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar

If you’re interested in more info on Tillamook, they launched a community Co-Op today that you can join to become a member with access to exclusive stuff like chef dinners and events, access to new products and you’ll even be able to name a cow. I like super lady-like names for cows. Think: Violet.
If you’re interested in more info on Tillamook, they launched a community Co-Op today that you can join to become a member with access to exclusive stuff like chef dinners and events, access to new products and you’ll even be able to name a cow. I like super lady-like names for cows. Think: Violet.

I will actually be attending the first Co-Op event here in LA in May, a brunch at Eveleigh featuring a yummy Tillamook menu. Keep a lookout for free tickets available when you sign up for the Co-Op.

Ok that’s it, now please go make lots of grilled cheeses with vegetables in them to celebrate spring.

Veggie Grilled Cheese Bar

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Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

Cheeses:

  • 8 ounces Tillamook Pepper Jack, grated
  • 8 ounces Tillamook Sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 8 ounces Tillamook Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar, grated
  • 8 ounces Tillamook Smoked Cheddar, grated

Vegetables:

  • 1 bunch of rainbow carrots, tops reserved and peeled
  • Olive oil
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1 bunch of broccoli
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and cooked in 2 tablespoons Tillamook unsalted butter over medium heat for 20 minutes, until crispy. Season with salt.
  • 1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced

Carrot top pesto:

  • 2 cups of carrot top leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cashews
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt, or to taste

Other additions:

  • 1/2 cup Tillamook unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 loaf of sour dough bread
  • 1 loaf of challah

Directions

  • Start with grating all your cheese. If you have a really large food processor, you can grate it very quickly using the grater attachment. I used a box grater, you know, the old fashioned way.
  • To roast your vegetables, start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. Add the carrots to a parchment-lined baking sheet and toss with a teaspoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven to cook for 5 minutes. At the 5 minute mark, add the asparagus to the same baking sheet; toss the asparagus with a teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer the baking sheet back to the oven to roast for an additional 5 minutes. At the 5 minute mark, add the broccoli and again, toss with a teaspoon of olive oil, salt and pepper; roast all of the vegetables for an additional 10 minutes. Remove and set aside. (It’s ok if the veggies are completely room temperature, they’ll reheat a bit when you make the sandwiches.)
  • In a medium sauté pan, add a teaspoon of olive oil, add the sliced onions and cook until caramelized, being sure to stir them every few minutes, for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in an additional small sauté pan, melt a few tablespoons of unsalted butter. When melted add the leeks. Cook until crispy, about 20 minutes. Season with a few pinches of salt.
  • To make the carrot top pesto, add all of the ingredients to a food processor; pulse until smooth. Adjust salt to taste.
  • Transfer carrots, asparagus, broccoli to plates. Add the caramelized onions, leeks and pesto to small bowls. Slice up the bread! Set out the cheeses and butter. Add some flowers. Have fun with it!

Notes

Obviously, this isn’t really a recipe but a guideline and list of ingredients I used to build the grilled cheese bar.
Did you make this Recipe? Tag me Today!Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen
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  • Reply bev @ bevcooks April 20, 2015 at 7:06 am

    This is basically all you need in life.

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