Updating a Classic

I feel as though I should start with a disclosure statement. Call it a public service announcement, if you’d like. Just know that once you dress up your grilled cheese sandwiches, there is no going back. You’ll never be satisfied with the same old American cheese between two slices of bread again.

Consider yourself warned.

Grilled cheese is one of those basic meals that I learned to make as a kid. Back then, it was slices of Velveeta (yes, yes, I know… but it melts so well…) between whatever bread was in the cupboard. I’ve since graduated to cheddar cheese, but I hadn’t made any other changes. I mean, there’s a reason the classics ARE the classics, right?

Until this past week. For some reason, I was looking for something a little different in our Sunday lunch. Something that would make it more than just a quick meal after church. Something… amazing, I guess. Andy’s first suggestion was bacon, which would have been amazing, but I’d used the last of our bacon in a bacon-broccoli mac-and-cheese earlier in the week. Instead of bacon, I caramelized some onions, chopped up some spinach and got out the white cheddar. Let’s just say that grilled cheese in our house will never be the same again.


Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Spinach

2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter, plus extra for buttering bread
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch of salt
3 1/2 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
4 slices of your favorite sandwich bread (sourdough would be great here, I think) 

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet (I used my cast iron one again.), melt a tablespoon of butter with the olive oil. Add the onions to the pan and sprinkle with sugar and the pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat until the onions are soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Butter one side of each slice of bread, and place two slices, butter side down, on a griddle. Divide the cheese in half (one pile for each sandwich), and then place half of that on each piece of bread. Spread the onions on top of the cheese, then top the onions with the chopped spinach. Place the rest of the cheese on top of the spinach and then top with the remaining slices of bread, butter side out. Cook over medium heat, flipping once, until cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown. Serve immediately.

a Beth’s Blue Plate Special Original!

Click here for a printable version!


9 thoughts on “Updating a Classic

  1. I love grilled cheese! If you’re ever in Cincinnati, there’s an amazing restaurant called Tom+Chee that makes the best grilled cheese (and tomato soup). I don’t work there, or anything, I just get so inspired by their combinations. Like I’m inspired by this one! Thanks, Beth!

  2. This looks delicious, Beth. I will give this combination a try. We have recently been on a grilled cheese binge at our house due a pub we ate at a few weeks ago that served “gourmet” grilled cheese. It was amazingly good. Though I generally don’t use much salt, the pub grilled cheese was made extra special by a sprinkling of what I think was crunchy Maldon sea salt flakes on the outside (top and bottom) of the sandwich. We have been making it that way ever since.

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