Sandwich Queen: French Onion Grilled Cheese
Sandwich Queen is back again and this week it’s all about the fancy grilled cheese sandwich! Now, I know that National Grilled Cheese Month has come and gone, but when I saw this recipe I couldn’t resist. And I mean really, can you ever have too many grilled cheese sammies? I think not.
Now, the main challenge with this recipe was the cheese. Since no (that I know of) vegan Gruyere cheeses exist, I knew I’d have to make my own. I’ve tried my hand at vegan cheese several times with varied success. Usually when I make vegan cheese it’s of the crumbly, ricotta-esque variety rather than the slice-and-melt type. The one time I did make a slice-and-melt almond cheese it had a weird texture that didn’t quite satisfy the role that cheese usually plays in a dish. So, this time around I played with the agar agar-to-water ratio in hopes that the texture would be more dense to create an even melting on the sandwich.
I would have to say my experiments were a success. I got the inspiration for the Gruyere from this recipe on The Wicked Good Vegan and I updated it to create a sliceable cheese rather than an already melted one. You can make the cheese brick into any shape you want, just make sure it’s a smooth surface so you can easily remove it when you are ready to slice it. I poured mine into a medium-size ramekin, though I’ve also used small casserole dishes in the past and they worked well, too.
Other than the cheese, this sandwich was pretty straightforward. Get a good loaf of sourdough (or make your own if you are feeling ambitious!) and make sure you butter it edge-to-edge before putting it into your skillet. Also, be sure to deglaze your pot or skillet often when caramelizing your onions – it makes all the difference. And remember, caramelizing onions is a labor of love. Yes it is time consuming, but the end result is more than worth it. Don’t rush this step.
This is not just any ‘grilled cheese’. This is the mother of all vegan grilled cheese sandwiches. It has rich, lusciousness from the caramelized onions and a surprising tang from the cheeze that are not to be dismissed as just another grilled cheese. Enjoy this bad boy – I know I did!
- 1 cup Water
- 4 tsp Agar Agar Powder
- 2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- 3 tbsp Quick Oats
- 4 tsp Tapioca Starch
- 2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- In a medium saucepan, warm the water and agar powder over medium heat. Bring to a low boil and boil for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. All agar should be dissolved and mixture should begin to thicken. Remove from heat and let cool for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to a blender (a food processor would also work) and quickly pulse to combine. Add in the agar and water mixture and blend on high until most lumps are removed. Tip: Place a towel over the top of the blender lid to keep water from coming out of the sides of the lid.
- Pour the mixture into a dish with a smooth surface (choose a dish that is deep enough to create at least a 1/4" slice of cheese). Let cool, the mixture should start to set up. Once cooled, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, but ideally overnight.
- Remove from mold and slice!
French Onion Grilled Cheese
- For the Onions:
- 2-3 Large Yellow Onions, sliced
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Thyme
- 1/4 cup Dry Sherry, Wine, or Water
- Salt and Pepper
- For the Build:
- Sourdough Slices
- Earth Balance
- 2 Slices of Gruyere per Sandwich
- In a dutch oven or deep skillet, add the olive oil and warm over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cover. Sweat onions for 15 minutes then uncover. Deglaze (pour the liquid in and stir) the pan with about 1 tbsp of your liquid of choice (either wine, sherry, or water) and continue to cook over medium heat for about 1 hour, or until all onions are a deep caramel color. Deglaze the pan and stir every 10-15 minutes or so, or when the onions seem to be sticking to the pan.
- To assemble the sandwiches, butter one side of two slices of sourdough. Place a slice of Gruyere on top of a slice of sourdough and top with a good amount of caramelized onions. Place another piece of cheese and sourdough on top. Warm a skillet or griddle over medium heat and place one sandwich onto the hot surface. At this point you can cover it with a metal bowl if you have one, otherwise it will cook just fine without. Cook for about 3-5 minutes each side, or until the bread is golden brown.
- Serve warm with tomato soup!