Plain grilled cheese sandwiches, or toasted cheese sandwiches as we call them in this part of the world, have never impressed me much. They were simply too boring. A little bit of melted cheese wasn’t enough to get my taste buds excited. I always needed a little something extra— a few slices of tomato, a little bacon, you get the picture. I never really understood why grilled cheese sandwiches had been elevated to the level of ‘comfort food’. I my mind, there was nothing comforting about them.
It’s funny how a little tweak can change one’s mind. Throw in some caramelised onions and some fresh basil and suddenly, I understand how something as humble as a sandwich can be considered comfort food.
This recipe makes 2 sandwiches.
4 slices of whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons of melted butter
50 grams of white cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon on mayonnaise
½ teaspoon of garlic powder or garlic flakes (fresh garlic can be used too if you don’t mind the pungency of raw garlic)
½ teaspoon of paprika
A handful of fresh basil leaves
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
How to make it:
In a frying pan at a medium-low heat, sauté the onion slices in olive oil until they are completely translucent. This should take anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes. Next add the balsamic vinegar, stir and leave for a further 2 minutes and set aside.
Combine the mayonnaise, paprika, black pepper and garlic powder in a small cup and mix until smooth.
Next brush on the melted butter one side of the bread slices; this will make sure that the bread will be golden on the outside when it toasts. Flip the slices over and on the other side, smear a thin layer of the mayonnaise mixture. Now you build the sandwich: Place the cheese on one slice of the bread. You want to cover the slice completely in cheese to create a full layer. Next place some caramelised onions on top of the cheese, spreading them out evenly. The basil leaves go on next, covering the onions. Another layer of cheese goes on top of that before the other slice of bread gets placed on top (butter side up obviously).
Now you can either put the sandwich in a heated panini press, or you can toast it in a heated non-stick frying pan. If you use the pan but still want a pressed sandwich you can place a flat sideplate on top of the sandwich and a heavy object on top of the plate. Remember to flip the sandwich over when the one side is sufficiently toasted. When the bread is sufficiently golden and crispy on both sides, and the cheese is spilling over the crust, then the sandwich is ready.