Did you know that April is National Grilled Cheese Month?
Do we really need a holiday to celebrate Nutella, grilled cheese or licorice? I get "Pi" day (3/14), but we are really taking this Hallmark thing a bit too far.
Who doesn't love melted cheese on bread?
I grew up with Kraft American slices grilled open faced under the broiler with tomato.
Sounds a bit boring, but it really was good.
Then I graduated to the same sandwich with pickle relish on top. Even better.
Years later, my mother took out the frying pan and added butter to the slices, to make a gooey, yummy treat, with a slice of bacon in between.
I always ordered the "Happy Waitress" at the diner (a New Jersey thing), which was the best hangover cure, besides the tuna melt on rye.
Ok, enough reminiscing about the good old grilled cheese days of my youth.............
You can use any cheese combination you like for your sandwich. I've done Brie w/ apples; Gruyere w/ figs & speck; Mozzarella w/ roasted peppers & basil; the ideas are endless.
Today, we are cooking some fresh spinach just to wilt and adding pickled onions.
You can make the pickled onions ahead of time, and keep them in the fridge for sandwiches all week long. They are great in tuna, or chicken too.
If you haven't got time to make the pickled onions, then just grill some sliced red onions in the pan with the spinach.
I've done it both ways, and they are both delicious!
2 large red onions, sliced thin
1 cup of white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
Blanch the onion slices for 2 minutes in boiling water and remove to a sterlized glass jar.
In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, bay leaf and cloves until dissolved and pour this mixture over the blanched onions in the jar.
Let cool, and keep refrigerated.
They stay good for a few weeks.
For the sandwiches:
In the skillet that you are making the grilled cheese in, heat some olive oil.
Add a big handful of spinach (for 2 people) and sprinkle w/ kosher salt.
Toss around with tongs for a few minutes, until the spinach is just wilted, not fully cooked.
Since I don't have a panini press, (nor do I want one), I use my favorite grill pan for this task.
Spread some honey mustard on good rustic bread slices.
Layer on some Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese.
Then top with the wilted spinach and some pickled onions.
Press the sandwiches down with a heavy pot lid and some muscle.
If your pan is dry, then add some butter.
Keep pressing until you achieve nice crispy marks, and flip over.
Press down the other side and you are ready to slice and eat!