Lined with Gruyere and Spilling Over with Caramelized Onions

November 5, 2008


If there is any solace to the cruel fact that the days of sandwiches stuffed with thick slices of sun-kissed tomatoes are over (emphasis on the “if”), it is that we have now arrived in the portion of the year in which sandwiches are only complete—only right—if they ooze with melted cheese. And that is a silver lining I can get behind.  Plus, what’s more American than a grilled cheese sandwich (even a gussied up one, sporting, erm, imported cheese)?  And, on this brilliant morning, I’m feeling pretty proud to be an American.






Another cold weather sandwich staple of mine is caramelized onions. So, when I discovered this recipe, which marries both of my go-to hibernation season sandwich fillings (for review: cheese warmed to its stretched-out-and-stringy state; soft curls of sweet, slow-cooked onions), I think I not only drooled a little bit, but I even—and please don’t hate me for this—willed winter to hurry up already.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)


In the end, we couldn’t wait until winter to audition this shiny new grilled cheese recipe. We made these sandwiches a couple Saturdays ago, when the skies were grey and the wind rattled our windows. The sandwiches—lined with grueyere and spilling over with a tangle of caramelized onions—were just what the doctor ordered.


The recipe also calls for a slather of spicy mustard and thinly sliced pickles: both of which (a) elevated the sandwich to my “food nirvana” category and (b) were entirely intolerable to my husband. So, my sandwich followed the recipe’s rules (how fitting) and Kevin’s was scaled down (simply great bread + warm, pungent cheese + melty onions). These sandwiches could go in other directions too, I think: slivered apples or pears in place of the pickles and honey standing in for the Dijon mustard, for instance.


Luckily, the grilled cheese season is young: there is plenty of time to try all the potential variations. And, if you happen to find yourself smack in the middle of an unseasonal heatwave but still hankering for these sandwiches, I could think up a million other excuses for you.  It’s going to climb into the 70s today in Chicago, but these sandwiches still sound delicious.  You see, I could use a little comfort food today, after last’s night’s late bedtime and overdose of TV-web-media (and champagne; that too).

Grilled Gruyere and Sweet Onions
Adapted from Food & Wine

Makes Four Sandwiches

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced crosswise (4 cups)
salt and freshly ground pepper
8 1/2-inch-thick slices of whole-grain bread
Dijon mustard
8 ounces imported Gruyère cheese, thinly sliced
2 dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise

In a deep skillet, melt the butter in the oil. Add the onion, cover and cook over high heat, stirring once or twice, until softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes longer. Add water to the skillet as necessary, 1/4 cup at a time, to prevent the onion from scorching. Season the caramelized onion with salt and pepper.

Arrange the bread on a work surface. Spread a thin layer of mustard on each slice. Top half of the slices with the onion, Gruyère and pickles and close the sandwiches.

Preheat a grill pan or panini press (which you can coat with a light brush of oil or cooking spray, if you  typically have problems with sticking). Grill the sandwiches over low heat until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted, 10 minutes. If using a grill pan, press the sandwiches with a spatula and flip them halfway through. Cut in half and serve right away.


22 Responses to “Lined with Gruyere and Spilling Over with Caramelized Onions”

  1. Whitney Says:

    *Groan* (thats my stomach-It is lunchtime and that looks like the perfect grilled cheese.)

    I think the heat wave was perfectly timed so that the 250K people in Grant Park didn’t freeze last night.

    I am also proud to be an American this morning.

  2. Amanda Says:

    It looks beautiful! I love all things grilled cheese and once I hit the grocery store, I plan on devouring this ‘wich.

  3. andie Says:

    It’s almost like a french onion sandwich instead of soup! KWIM?


  4. sue bette Says:

    lovely – I was just thinking about grilled cheese sandwiches today – must be the cooler weather on the horizon. The recipe looks wonderful – I love pickles and onions – but I have to say I am most impressed by your killer grill marks!

  5. Dawn in CA Says:

    oh dear, all these yummy, melty, gooey cheese sandwiches on my favorite food blogs are KILLING me! Sadly, I can’t eat dairy of any kind, and soy/rice cheeses are just… “okay.” Good in a pinch or in a baked casserole/lasagna/etc., but not so great on their own or in sandwiches. I’ll live vicariously through you!

  6. medha Says:

    these grilled sandwiches are gorgeous! caramelized onions and meltycheese make a happy pair for my craving tummy 🙂 I love the pictures you took too!

  7. Jesse Says:

    I was thinking these looked good until I saw the pickles… and then I lost my mind a little. This look unbelievable – and gorgeous photos too!

  8. Vicki Says:

    “Lined with Gruyere and spilling over with caramelized onions” is my new favorite culinary phrase. Can’t wait to try this sandwich.

  9. Regina Says:

    Maybe you have some ESP of what’s in our fridge right now: we have gruyere and (leftover) caramelized onions which are screaming to be made into this sandwich. Not to mention, gruyere is an amazing cheese…

  10. This looks great – so much better than the grilled Velveeta (I won’t call that cheese) my babysitter used to make when I was a kid. And maybe, all things considered, it only counts as properly American if the cheese is imported?

  11. holler Says:

    Wow, that looks amazing! Pass me one please 🙂

  12. Whitney: It was plain cruel of me to post this around lunchtime. My apologies.

    Amanda: Thanks!

    andie: That is an excellent point. And what’s better than French Onion Soup? (Oddly enough, I just remembered that I posted a French Onion Soup recipe right after Super Tuesday …)

    sue bette: My grill pan, for some reason, imparts the best grill marks. I’m a sucker for it too.

    Dawn: Oh gosh, I don’t know what to say. I think I’ll just say this: : (.

    medha: Thank you!

    Jesse: I know, the pickles! So good.

    Vicki: Ha! Do try it — you won’t be sorry.

    Regina: You have clearly been eating well to have those leftovers in your fridge. : )

    Fearless Kitchen: Thanks! I had plenty of Velveeta in my childhood too. I think it’s best left there.

    holler: Thanks!

  13. April Says:

    Wow! I made this for lunch today and it was delicious! I, like your husband, stuck to the no frills version. I even took photos and sent to my Mom, in true blog style. We are big fans and love trying what you post!

  14. Those are two of my favorite things, too! How did I never think to combine them in a sandwich?

  15. grandma Says:

    sorry you were sick the sandwich looked great i love onions we do not have that cheese in our store but ren does bringus some this is the fun of living where we do we still have our rosemary p;ant going the basil is gone and i dried some i have 12 impatiens plants going for next year. you slip them in warer and they root and then you plant them i am running out of window space, love grandma

  16. Meg Says:

    Melty cheese, caramelized onions AND pickles? AMAZING.

  17. April: That’s awesome! And here I thought my mom and I are were the only mother-daughter duo who talked incessantly about what they’d been cooking …

    croquecamille: Well, we never have to live without this delectable combination again. Bliss, I tell you.

    grandma: Hi! Thanks for the comment! I love it.

    Meg: I could not agree more. : )

  18. canarygirl Says:

    Soup and sandwiches are probably what I eat most of. This sandwich? Is on thee shortest of lists. I think either tonight for dinner or tomorrow for sure. Caramelized onions? Melty cheese? God. I think I might love you for posting this. 🙂

  19. El Says:

    I cannot be the only one who wants to know about that amazing looking bread!

  20. El Says:

    I hate to be irritating, but I’m checking this every day because I want that bread so badly! What is it?

  21. El: Sorry for the delay! It’s from Whole Foods. It’s a whole wheat multigrain loaf.

  22. El Says:

    Thank you! Definitely getting some of that…I’ve been making the sandwiches (sometimes with saurkraut instead of pickles) but I keep thinking of how much better it would be with that bread.

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