Thursday, September 26, 2013

Best. Grilled Cheese. Ever.

Panino would be a more accurate description, I suppose, but whatever you call it, this sammie has officially become the family favorite grilled cheese. Serious. Foodgasm.  It was inspired by Daphne Oz's roasted cauliflower grilled cheese with jalapeño aioli from her fabulous cookbook Relish. I've made her exact recipe once before, and it was amaze balls. This time around I was too lazy to open the book decided to wing it with what I could remember from her recipe. I used roasted cauliflower, caramelized onions, smoked swiss cheese, spring mix greens, and a quick sweet and spicy jalapeño dressing. The result was smoky, gooey, crunchy, buttery, slightly sweet, salty, and uh-MAY-zing. The only thing that could have improved on the flavor was bacon - duh - but I was trying to keep the sandwich vegetarian. It was pure decadence with some veggies thrown in to make me feel better about eating it. The cauliflower, onions, and dressing can all be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until you're ready to assemble the sammies.


For the roasted cauliflower
1 head cauliflower, sliced lengthwise into steaks
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs curry powder
salt and pepper

For the caramelized onions
1 large or 2 small onions, halved and sliced into half moons
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp rubbed sage or 2 tsp fresh chopped sage
1/2 cup dry white wine

For the dressing
1 small or 1/2 a large jalapeño, finely chopped
1 tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder

For the sandwiches
8 slices hearty sandwich bread (such as Dave's Killer Bread)
4 tsp butter
8 slices smoked swiss cheese (such as Tillamook)
1 cup spring mix salad

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. To make the cauliflower, slice it from the top of the head through the bottom into 1/4" steaks. You will probably only get 3 good "steaks" out of the head, the rest of it will crumble into florets, and that's ok. For easy cleanup, line a sheet pan with nonstick foil. Gently place the sliced cauliflower on the pan, and drizzle with olive oil. Use a pastry brush or your fingers to evenly coat the pieces. Season the top sides with curry powder, pepper, and a liberal amount of salt. Roast for 18 minutes, gently flip them over, then roast an additional 5 mins until caramelized. Reserve. This can be done ahead of time, just be careful how you store them in the refrigerator so as not to break them up too much.

To make the onions, preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat it until it shimmers when you shake the pan. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt. Once they begin to turn translucent, at the water and bay leaf. Simmer, uncovered, until all the water has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high, add the sage, and sauté the onions another 10 minutes or so until deep golden brown and caramelized all over, stirring and scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon every 1 or 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the pan more, getting up all the browned bits from the bottom. Remove from heat. Keep onions refrigerated until ready to use.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a lidded jar and give them a good shake. Store in fridge until ready to use.

Preheat a nonstick skillet or griddle to medium low heat. To assemble the sandwiches, lay out 4 slices of bread on a work surface. Butter one side of each slice of bread with 1/2 tsp of butter and flip them all over. Spread each slice with a little dressing. Layer one slice of cheese, a layer of cauliflower, 1/4 of the onions, 1/4 of the lettuces, and another slice of cheese. Repeat for all 4 sandwiches. Butter the other 4 slices of bread, flip over, spread with remaining dressing, and top the assembled sandwiches with their tops, buttered side up. Cook individually in a skillet or together on a griddle. Brown the first side until deep brown and crispy (I like to periodically flatten down the sandwiches with a spatula), 4-5 minutes. Carefully flip and brown the second side, 2-3 minutes.

Cut into triangles and DEVOUR as slowly as you are able. Multiple foodgasms will ensue.

serves 4