What's for Lunch? Grilled Cheese w/ Spinach & Pickled Onions

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!

Pickled Onions:

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!


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Katie C. said…
I grew up in Massachusetts. My friend Linda and I would go to Friendly's for grilled cheese sandwiches and strawberry milk shakes before or after the movies. I thought I was the only nut that put my dill pickles IN my sandwich. Yummy!
Stacey Snacks said…
My husband lives pickle relish on his grilled cheese too!
mil said…

I lived on VELVEETA cheese sandwiches on WHITE bread with relish during high school. Loved them.
Jule said…
Hi Stacey!

By chance I found your site today because your recipe of the Broccoli Bites for Kids were posted from a side I follow on facebook... Your side is gorgeous (!!!) and after browsing a bit over it I'm really hungry and full of ideas what I can cook or bake next.
I love the pickled onions,. I made them last year and gifted them when we were invited to BBQs.
Have a great day!

Anonymous said…
Ooohhh, your frosty crock of pickled onions is so pretty, so beautifully watermelon-ey pink!
TheJimBar said…
This is my favorite grilled cheese. Triple D recommended.

Ciao Chow Linda said…
I've had pickled onion in sandwiches but never made my own. I want to try your recipe - and this sandwich.
Joanne said…
While it's not NECESSARY to have a holiday to enjoy grilled cheese...it is kind of fun to think we have an excuse to eat it every day for a month! I love the idea of adding pickled onions!
Foodiewife said…
What would the ueber bloggers do without a national whatever-that-day-is so that they can blog about it? Oh, wait. I'm a blogger. Pish. I don't have a pannini press, either, and I use the same method you do. Looks fab, and love the idea of the wilted spinach. Stealing it!
I have a panini press sitting on the floor in my pantry in the original box, used it maybe 3 times. I like your method better, and I like your pickled onions! That bread looks awesome!
The Happy Waitress? You make me laugh out loud! I grew up with crumbly sharp cheddar sandwiches and longed for the american cheese sandwiches my school friends had. Go figure.