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Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Ellie Krieger's Sweet & Savory Grilled Cheese Sandwich recipe / Renee Comet, styling by Lisa Cherkasky/USA WEEKEND
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A grilled cheese sandwich is one of life’s simple pleasures. It’s as humble as can be, yet it delivers unbeatable taste, comfort and satisfaction. Eating one brings me back to carefree childhood meals.

As adults, most of us abandon grilled cheese as too unhealthy and relegate it to the world of kids’ food. But with a few tweaks, you can have that indulgent, feel-good grilled cheese experience in a much healthier way for you and the kids in your life.

First, use whole grain instead of white bread to get more fiber, antioxidants and essential minerals. Next, add a vegetable or two. Summer-ripe tomato slices are a natural fit; I’ve also included sweet and savory caramelized onions. You can also mix it up with grated carrot or slices of zucchini to mix it up. Use extra-sharp cheese for big flavor while keeping the portion size sensible. And grill the sandwich in a non-stick pan sprayed with oil, rather than slathering it with butter.

This scrumptious quick recipe shows how it all comes together in golden-brown, melted glory. To give this simple recipe an extra punch of intrigue and flavor, I spike the caramelized onions with a bit of curry powder. The spice makes the sandwich slightly more sophisticated but keeps it kid-friendly. In fact, it’s my 9-year-old daughter’s favorite.

Sweet and Savory Grilled Cheese Sandwich

- 2 tsps. canola or grape seed oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced into half moons (about 2 cups)
- ½ tsp. curry powder
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 8 thin slices sharp cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces total)
- 8 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread
- 1 large or 2 medium-ripe beefsteak or hothouse tomatoes, sliced
- Cooking spray

Heat the oil in a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently until the onions are deep golden brown and the edges are browned, 10 to 12 additional minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cayenne pepper. Onions may be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Place one slice of cheddar cheese on each of 4 slices of the bread. Spread a quarter (about 2 Tbs.) of the caramelized onions on top, then place one large or 2 medium slices tomato. Place another slice of cheese on top of that, then the other slice of bread.

Wipe out the skillet, then coat with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Place one of the sandwiches in the skillet and weigh down with a smaller heavy skillet. Lower the heat to medium-low and grill until the underside is a deep brown but not burnt and the cheese is partially melted, 3-4 minutes. Flip the sandwich and grill the other side until it’s nicely colored, another 3 minutes. Slice in half and serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings

Per serving:

350 calories, 29g carbohydrates, 19g protein, 18g fat (10g saturated), 5g fiber, 45mg cholesterol, 530mg sodium

Recipe reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Taunton Press Inc., from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life, by Ellie Krieger. Copyright by Ellie Krieger.

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