A gooey grilled cheese sandwich made with caramelized onions, green apple and horseradish.
Grilled cheese is one of those inherently Canadian dishes; bread with melted, gooey cheese and butter. Basically, three of the best ingredients in the world, no? Here’s the thing, my mother didn’t grow up in Canada—she grew up in London and Athens. These two cities couldn’t be more different, but they also couldn’t be more different from Toronto, which is the city where I was born and raised and where grilled cheese was a common after school snack—for everyone except myself and my sister. So, where did I receive my ‘grilled cheese education’?
It starts off with my Toronto high school, where the grilled cheese fundraisers were something of legend. A few times a year, you would smell cheese and butter wafting down the hallways before lunch or after school to raise money for a variety of charities. These fundraisers were a big deal back then, students would line-up down the hallways or outside the front of the school for a sandwich.
While I loved those simple sandwiches (they were just butter, cheese and bread), I knew that there was more to grilled cheese, so I started experimenting and getting creative. The next stop in my education was from a Martha Stewart recipe where I learned that adding slices of apple to a sandwich was a game changer. The crunch and sour notes from a Granny Smith apple were now required in a Living Lou grilled cheese.
Back when I worked in the test kitchen of a magazine, we spent many days tasting and eating grilled cheese recipes for a holiday feature. This was a lesson in balancing flavours and taught me that the kind of cheese used makes a huge difference. I’ve used Brie, Gruyere, Havarti, Cheddar and even blue cheese in my grilled cheese sandwiches, and for this recipe I’m highlighting the Canadian cheese, Heidi.
Heidi is a firm cheese with deep and rich flavours, when I first tasted it I found that it had subtle earthy and grassy notes. You can think of Heidi as a cheese similar to Gruyere (basically, an incredible melting cheese).
I’m thrilled to be partnering with Dairy Farmers of Canada this year to highlight the incredible local and award-winning cheeses we have right at our fingertips here in Canada. You know that I love all things local, and this month’s featured ‘Cheese of the Month’ is Heidi from the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. If there’s one thing you should add to your list this year, it’s to join me in learning and tasting all kinds of Canadian cheeses.
For this grilled cheese, I took a few of my favourite grilled cheese ‘accoutrements’–caramelized onions (made with a splash of red wine which pairs beautifully with Heidi), Granny Smith apple and horseradish for a little kick and tartness to balance out the richness of melted, gooey cheese.
Caramelized Onion and Apple Grilled Cheese
For caramelized onions:
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced (1/8” slices)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup light red wine
- 4 1/2 ” thick slices of egg bread
- 2 tbsp softened butter, divided
- 2 tsp prepared horseradish, divided
- 140 g/6 oz grated or thinly sliced Heidi cheese, divided
- 2 rounded tbsp of caramelized onions, divided
- 1/2 Granny smith apple, thinly sliced, divided
For caramelized onions:
- Heat oil and butter over medium heat in a large pan. Add onions and salt, cook, stirring occasionally for 20-25 minutes or until onions are a deep brown. Add red wine, in splashes (about 3 additions), to onions. Stirring and allowing all liquid to absorb before adding more. Remove from heat and set aside.
To assemble one sandwich:
- Heat a grill pan or regular pan over medium heat. Butter both pieces and sides of bread. Spread one slice with horseradish. Top a quarter of the cheese, top with one rounded tbsp of caramelized onions. Add half the apple slices, top with more cheese and slice of bread.
- Cook on stovetop for about 5 minutes, turning the heat down to avoid burning. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side another 3-5 minutes.
- Repeat with remaining ingredients for second sandwich.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada – as always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting my sponsors and allowing me to continue creating recipes like this caramelized onion and apple grilled cheese!