Monday, August 31, 2009

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese: Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I had a different recipe ready to post tonight, but I am so excited about what I made for dinner that it moved up straight to front of the queue! Grilled cheese is such a versatile sandwich, and one that brings me back to my childhood. There are so many variations that you can make with a grilled cheese. My sister adds ham to make herself a "Gooey Ham & Cheese". You can try any variety of cheeses (my standard is made of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Gruyere). A very long time ago, I dined at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater when I was visiting Disney World for a high school cheerleading competition. I ordered a grilled cheese and requested a pickle on the side. My sandwich was instead delivered to our table with the pickle in the grilled cheese and it turned out to be an excellent combination!

I recently found a recipe in Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave for a different version of the grilled cheese. While I’ve added tomatoes to a grilled cheese before myself, it is her addition of the caramelized onions that makes this sandwich so special, and more of a grown-up version. (Although I think my 2-year-old nephew would love it just as much as we did!)

After a very long day at work today, I arrived home late and was still able to whip this up in no time. I used High Five Fiber bread from Great Harvest Bread Co., fresh tomatoes from the farmers’ market, and used my grill pan with a sandwich press. You could also use a Panini maker if you have one, and I’ll admit that I have been known to make a grilled cheese by assembling the sandwiches and just letting them bake on a sheet pan in the oven (not a preferable method, but a bit more convenient when you don’t have a few minutes to stand in front of the stove flipping sandwiches). I served the sandwiches with the Roasted Tomato and Cognac soup I made over the weekend, and this meal hit the spot!

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

* 2 teaspoons canola oil
* 1 large red onion, finely diced (or sliced)
* Salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 3 ounces sharp Cheddar, thinly sliced, divided
* 8 slices whole-wheat bread
* 3 ounces pepper Jack cheese, thinly sliced, divided
* 1 large or 2 medium beefsteak or hothouse tomatoes, sliced
* Cooking spray

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lower heat to medium. Add onions and saute, stirring, until edges are browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Place 3/4-ounce Cheddar on 1 slice bread. Spread 1 tablespoon caramelized onions on top of cheese and top with 3/4-ounce pepper Jack. Top with 1 large or 2 medium slices tomato and other slice of bread. Repeat with 3 other sandwiches.

Spray a nonstick skillet or griddle with cooking spray and heat until hot. Place sandwich on griddle and weigh down with a heavy skillet or plate. Lower heat to medium-low and grill until underside is a deep brown but not burnt and cheese is partially melted, about 5 to 6 minutes. Flip sandwich and grill other side, an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Slice in half and serve hot.


  1. Oh my gosh, I totally remember your grilled pickle and cheese sandwich! We love putting tomatoe on grilled cheese and I'll definitely try this new twist!

  2. Your nephew would LOVE the entire menu!