French Onion Grilled Cheese
Is there anything more satisfying than a grilled cheese? After a long day, sometimes the simplest meal yields the greatest satisfaction. A grilled cheese sandwich is the champion of simple meals. Bread, butter, your favorite cheese melted together in harmony.
I love French onion soup, but I’ve been making lots of soups lately (like my last post, Lemon Chickpea Avocado Soup). Putting a slight twist on a classic favorite is always fun and exactly what inspired this recipe. French onion soup is an easy balance of sweet and salty from the combination of the onions and the broth.
Good vegan cheese can be hard to find. You want it melty and gooey, but not too stringy. You want it to be almost exactly like real cheese. I’ve been dairy free for about 4 years now, and plant based/vegan for 3 so I’ve tried pretty much every dairy alternative out there. After searching for what seemed like an eternity I finally found the perfect vegan cheese.
Violife Foods makes the best vegan cheese at the moment. Although the variety available at Whole Foods isn’t extraordinary, the quality and flavor is something else. Their provolone slices and parmesan wedge are regulars in my fridge these days.
Most French onion soups use a baguette as croutons or to bake the cheese onto. Since baguettes are not usually vegan-friendly, I opted for a seeded, multi grain bread instead. White breads are delicious for this recipe but not all will be sturdy enough to hold together, unless they have a crunchier, starchy crust like a baguette.
Makes 3 sandwiches
12 slices Violife Foods smoked provolone cheese
2 tbsp grated Violife Foods Parmesan wedge cheese
6 slices of whole grain or multi grain bread*
3/4 yellow onion, sliced
5 tbsp vegan butter divided, plus extra for spreading on bread slices
3/4 tsp thyme
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 cup of vegetable broth**
salt & pepper to taste
optional: 1 tbsp dry sherry
Preheat your oven on broil to 525 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
In a medium pan, over a medium-low flame heat 2 tbsp of butter. Once the butter has melted, stir in the onions. As the onions cook, check on them frequently, adding a splash of broth so the onions don’t burn or stick to the pan (every 2 minutes or so). Allow them to caramelize (about 25-30 minutes).
While the onions caramelize, butter one side of each slice of bread to prepare for grilling.
Once the onions have darkened in color and shrunken in size, set aside and cover with foil to keep warm.
Lowering the heat to a medium-low flame, add 1 tbsp of butter to the same pan and allow to melt. Once fully melted, place a slice of bread, buttered side down, into the pan with 2 slices of provolone, then a generous scoop of the caramelized onions, layered with another 2 slices of provolone and another slice of bread, buttered side facing out. Cover for a minute.
After a minute, remove the lid and gently flip the sandwich so it can brown on the other side. Once golden on both sides, place on the baking sheet and do the same process for the remaining two sandwiches.
Once all three sandwiches have been grilled and placed on the baking sheet, sprinkle the 2 tbsp of grated parmesan equally between them, on one side. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 4-7 minutes. When the cheese appears to be extra melty, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes before serving.***
*white bread will not hold up as well when baking or grilling the sandwich
**not all of this may be necessary depending on how long it takes to cook your onions
***the sandwiches will still taste fresh up to 2-3 days after making