Oregon Berry Festival 2015 and BlackBerry Grilled Cheese

Next weekend on Friday July 17 and Saturday July 18 is the 5th annual Lifewise Oregon Berry Festival 2015. This FREE festival at the Ecotrust building  in the Pearl District showcases everything berry, from

  • Fresh berry vendors booths with their farm fresh berries and berry products
  • A Healthy Berry Pavilion education booth with information to introduce you to berries you may not be aware of or ways to incorporate berries into your diet and explain all the various health benefits of berries. And there’s also a culinary historian to give a brief history of Oregon berries.
  • Berry themed food booths
  • Cooking demonstrations featuring berries
  • An Oregon’s Best Blackberry pie contest and demo by Pacific Pie Company
  • Berry themed crafts at a children’s booth, appearances by blueberry mascot Ima Blueberry with coloring sheets and face painting, as well as family friendly live musical entertainment
  • There’s a chance to win a bike by filling out a Oregon Berry Festival passport by following clues and gathering stamps from vendors
  • On Saturday evening a separate Gala Berry Dinner at OMSI will be held to show how you can use berries for every course, from cocktail hour to savory to sweet dishes (tickets are $105 all inclusive, available at Brown Paper Tickets)

Lifewise Oregon Berry Festival Lifewise Oregon Berry Festival

I’ll be attending the Berry Festival on Saturday at part of a Berry Festival media tour with the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission (ORBC), including visiting a working berry farm. I’ll be reporting back with what I learn and a NEW recipe. For now though…

What: Oregon Berry Festival 2015

  • Friday, July 17, from 12:00pm to 6:00pm
  • Saturday, July 18, from 11:00am to 5:00pm

Where: Ecotrust Event Space at NW 10th and Johnson, Portland, Oregon
Who: Everybody… and it’s FREE!

Recipe for a Berry Grilled Cheese

Blackberry Grilled Cheese with blackberries, basil, fontina, a touch of pesto
Usually my berry consumption is raw: right out of the pint, in beverage form via smoothie or juice (or fruit beer!!), sometimes it’s folded into a salad or ice cream or sorbet. I rarely have it cooked, and when I have cooked berries it’s generally because it is part if a dish while I’m dining out. Also, I am a cook that prefers the forgiveness of savory foods, not a baker. What can I say, I guess I’m not a sweet girl who follows precise technical instructions.

In celebration of the upcoming festival though, I decided to seek out a recipe featuring berry and that cooks with it but isn’t a traditional dessert – and when I saw this Fontina + Blackberry Basil Smash Sandwich from the blog how sweet it is (with her upcoming cookbook Seriously Delish coming out soon), I was sold.
Blackberry Grilled Cheese with blackberries, basil, fontina, a touch of pesto Blackberry Grilled Cheese with blackberries, basil, fontina, a touch of pesto

I’m not going to provide the whole recipe here: you should definitely click on over to check out her gorgeous photos and the recipe instructions yourself. But, at a high level you only need a handful of ingredients!
For your Blackbery Basil grilled cheese, you will use Oregon Blackberries, about 4 ounces (about 14 berries) per sandwich Blackberry and Basil, a great combination of flavors

The slight changes I made is that I probably used a lot more basil than she did for my sandwich (I used about 4 ounces of blackberries, which was about 14 berries FYI and almost 7 basil leaves for each individual sandwich) because I love basil. Do not wear a white shirt when making this blackberry basil smash part/get your apron out.
Make sure you carefully smash your blackberries as it does squirt a bit. Don't wear a white shirt For the Blackberry Grilled Cheese, I used about 14 blackberries and chopped 7-8 leaves of basil for each sandwich

I suggest brushing on the olive oil or melted butter on both sides of the bread before adding your spoonfuls of blackberry basil smash as that makes more logistical sense than her order. I also had a little leftover pesto from the Cashew Cheese on Cucumber recipe I shared earlier this week, so smeared that on also. I was generous with my cheese, probably about 3 ounces per sandwich, which I grated to melt better and spread over every centimeter of my bread.
Franz Mt Hood Multigrain and Flax bread makes for great sandwiches, especially grilled cheese! I used a little pesto inside my Blackberry Basil Grilled cheese Grilling my Blackberry Basil Smash grilled cheese sandwich, adding the grated fontina to the bread and pesto

Since you grill this low and slow to get melty and brown, it shouldn’t heat up your kitchen too much. Maybe you are calling me a cheat because it isn’t so much cooking the berries as slightly warming them up, and the only prep is smashing them essentially into jam… but I don’t care.

Blackberry Grilled Cheese with blackberries, basil, fontina, a touch of pesto

This recipe is ALL win.

Warning: this sandwich needs 2 napkins or a paper towel. I would not fault you for serving this open faced because it really is pretty too!
Blackberry Grilled Cheese with blackberries, basil, fontina, a touch of pesto Blackberry Grilled Cheese with blackberries, basil, fontina, a touch of pesto

For additional variant, you could swap out the fontina for a brie if you can’t find fontina, and feel free to add grilled chicken as a protein to your sandwich.

If you are looking for more berry good recipes, feel free to check out the website Oregon Berries, which not only provides information on various Oregon berries, but has a portion dedicated to berry recipes from food bloggers at Bloggers ♥ Oregon Berries as well as a Recipe Search based on the berry that may intrigue you!

I also have a few more past berry recipes I’ve shared: you can see that strawberries are my favorite berry, and that I could put together a whole dinner with just berries for every course if I wanted to! I wonder what the James Beard Award winning Chef Jim Dodge of the Gala Berry Dinner 2015 for the Oregon Berry Festival will do?!

Have you heard of the Oregon Berry Festival? What is your favorite berry, and how do you like to enjoy it, do you have a favorite recipe with berries and what is it?

Disclosure: I will be attending a media tour of the Oregon Berry Festival, but I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own. And, this recipe is really delicious, as are all the strawberry recipes I previously shared on the blog. Support Oregon Berries to support local producers and it’s healthy and yummy!



  1. So excited for this!!!

  2. I never thought about adding fruit to my grilled cheese!!! What a great idea. This looks like a great event!

  3. Ah, I love berries. This is the best. I cannot wait.

  4. I have never been to the Oregon berry festival, but my favorite berry is strawberry, so that strawberry fool recipe is just my speed. Thanks for sharing! Cheers 🙂

  5. Thank you for the heads up on the Berry Festival, and THANK YOU for the berry/grilled cheese idea! I can’t wait to try that!

  6. Dude! This looks amazing! As does that sammich.

  7. I loved the festival last year! You’ll love the tour!! My favorite Oregon berry? That’s a tough one… Oregon strawberries are the best in the world, but I also love our Marionberry… our raspberries and blueberries are pretty amazing as well. I love them all!


  1. […] have one more berry recipe coming – and don’t forget about my Blackberry Grilled Cheese I shared with you a few weeks […]

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