This is the first time I’ve had Gruyere, the renowned Swiss cheese. Wikipedia had a lot of complimentary things to say about Gruyere: “it is one of the finest cheeses for baking, having a distinct but not overpowering taste”, “adds savoriness without overshadowing the other ingredients”, “is a good melting cheese”, and “a fine table cheese”. It describes it as “sweet but slightly salty” with a creamy, nutty flavor when young that grows more assertive and complex with age. Depending on the age of your cheese, the flavor will vary. Typically the older it is, the stronger it gets.
Gruyere pairs perfectly well with naturally sweet caramelized onions to create a heavenly panini. Because the onions take some time to cook, you can’t throw this together in seconds, but I’ve never regretted spending the time to slow-cook onions on the stove. It’s wild how such a pungent, tear-provoking bulb can turn into something so gentle and sweet with a little time and tenderness. And here’s a secret: many recipes call for you to add sugar to the pan when caramelizing onions- YOU DON’T NEED TO! They become astonishingly sweet and succulent all on their own. (A good quality extra virgin olive oil helps this process along.) I think it’s one of nature’s miracles- add a little heat and the onion will turn sweet!
Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Panini
2-3 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
4 slices whole wheat bread
4 oz. Gruyere cheese, sliced or grated
butter or cooking spray
1. To caramelize the onions, heat a splash of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and stir to coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 25-35 minutes until the onions are soft, golden brown, and caramelized. (At this point the onions can refrigerated until ready to use.)
2. Preheat a panini press or griddle to medium-high heat. Divide the onions and spread over two slices of bread. Top each with 2 oz. of Gruyere. Top with the second slice of bread. Butter the outside OR spray the press with cooking spray. Grill the panini until the cheese is melted and the top is browned. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 paninis.
(Adapted from Panini Happy)