Bacon Cheddar Shrimp Cakes with Kale Pesto Aoli

Do you love the show Chopped? I few months I go I posted a recipe for Grilled Pesto Chicken Bacon Sandwich with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce for the Chopped at Home contest. The rules were simple and the same as last time- create a dish using the following basket ingredients: Sargento Chef Blends 4 State Cheddar, kale, oyster crackers  and bacon.  Being from Wisconsin, cheddar cheese is one of my absolute favorites and I was happy to see it listed along with Vermont, New York and California.  

When I initially saw the ingredients for the challenge I was excited about all the possibilities, but knew that the ingredients were calling for seafood. My first thought was crab, but it seemed to easy and I opted to make a shrimp cake to show off the challenge ingredients. I love the flavors of bacon and shrimp together and knew the cheddar cheese would give the cake a little additional salty tangy richness to the cake.  I know that many times seafood/fish and cheese get a bad rep, but it is worth your while to make an exception for this dish. I made this recipe adaptable and it can be shared as an appetizer with small cakes or larger cakes for an entree. If you are serving it as an entree it would make a delicious sandwich or topper for a salad with the kale pesto drizzled over the top.  

My family loved this dish when I served it as an appetizer and the plate was just about licked clean! 

If you want to enter, check out Food Networks page for Chopped At Home. The first round ends June 29th, and then voting for the semi-finalists of round three starts. I am sure it is another long shot, but I figure why not throw my hat (or shrimp cake) in the ring!

Tonight, I am prepping dinner for a small get together with our friend tomorrow evening, and doing a little baby shopping because they recently welcomed their little girl to their family!


3/4 cup mayo
Juice from 1/2 a medium lemon
1 1/2 Tbl chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 egg
1 lb raw shrimp, finely chopped
4 strips crispy bacon, chopped
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
3/4 cup crushed oyster crackers

Vegetable Oil, for frying

for kale pesto dipping sauce:
3 cups chopped kale
2 tbl toasted pine nuts
3 clove garlic
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup mayo
salt and pepper, to taste


In a medium bowl, whisk together mayo, lemon juice, fresh parsley, Dijon, old bay and egg.  Gently stir in the finely chopped shrimp, bacon and cheese.  Finally, fold in the crushed crackers.

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.  With your hands make 10 medium cakes for an appetizer or 4 large cakes for an entree. Place cakes on the baking sheet, and chill 30 minutes to an hour. 

While shrimp cakes chill, combine kale, lemon juice, pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse till just combined and drizzle in olive oil as food processor runs. Remove from food processor and whisk in the mayo. Season with salt and pepper is desired. 

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Fry the shrimp cakes, about a minute or two per side until golden brown and shrimp is pink. 

Serve shrimp cakes immediately with a side of kale pesto sauce for dipping. 

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