This week’s recipe comes from my pal in the kitchen and behind the cheese counter, our own Cheesemonger Extraordinaire, Kiri Endicott. Kiri just got back from competing in the Cheesemonger Invitational in Brooklyn. This annual event brings together over 40 cheesemongers from all over the country for a fun competition that challenges their technical skills and general cheese knowledge. Kiri came away finishing in 6th place (out of 45 competitors!), and we are so proud of her!!!! You can read more about this crazy fun event in Kiri’s post this week. I’m here to tell you all about her ‘perfect bite’ that is a major component of the competition. Weeks before the event, you are assigned a cheese to create a well-balanced, beautiful, tasty bite. Kiri was given a shop favorite, L’amuse Signaure Gouda, so the possibilities were endless. She decided on a Walnut Pesto that uses Gouda instead of the traditional Parmigiano Reggiano. The za’atar brings unexpected flavors of the Middle East that amplify the sweetness and complexity of the Gouda. This pesto works well over grilled vegetable, fish, or add a tablespoon to your favorite vinaigrette for a boost to your salad. Congratulations again to Kiri for a great performance at CMI! Enjoy her ‘perfect bite’!
1 cup walnuts
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon za’atar*
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon L’Amuse Gouda (about ¼ pound)*
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 -1/4 teaspoon salt*
½ cup olive oil*
*Items with an asterisk can be found at The Cheese Shop of Salem!
In a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, toast the walnuts until they become slightly darker in color and fragrant.
Peel and roughly chop the garlic.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the walnuts, garlic, za’atar, cheese, salt, pepper pulse a few times. With the motor running, slowly stream in the olive oil and finish with the lemon juice. Pesto should be thick with some fine-medium texture. Adjust seasoning.
Yield: 1 cup