I wasn’t brought up on grilled cheese. My mom was the one taking the cheese off my pizza, not melting it on my sandwiches. But as I shifted into grade school, curiosity got the best of my taste-buds, and the ooey gooey sandwich entered my diet. Of course I was in love, and like the rest of my peers, the sandwich represented true comfort food. Tomato soup-dipped grilled cheese was all I wanted on a chilly fall day, stuck inside a school that was hardly ever adequately heated. While I shed the vegan diet, I was still primarily a vegetarian during my grade school years. So come lunch time, I’d often be sifting through all the deli meat sandwiches to find that one remaining gold foil wrapped grilled cheese. There never were enough of those. The gummy orange cheese laid on two slices of soft white bread that never got quite crisped enough was nowhere near gourmet. But, it did the job of fulfilling my 8th grade appetite.
As I grew older, I started shifting back to my vegan childhood and eliminated a considerable amount of dairy out of my diet. I’m not vegan, but I try not to eat cheese on a frequent basis, making it so grilled cheese never truly became a comfort food of mine. However, don’t get me wrong. I still love the warm, cheesy sandwich and am occasionally caught playing with its ingredients in the kitchen. Brie and apple on crusty cinnamon raisin bread? Yes please.
Having a craving for grilled cheese, I decided to return to the classic and give in to my melted desire. However, this time I kept it vegan, swapping the dairy for Daiya. Playing up the flavors of fall, I added sliced pear, along with sweet and acidic, balsamic-glazed onions. This was a match made in heaven. The creamy Daiya with the juicy pear and full-flavored onions made this adult adaptation a (vegan) grilled cheese winner.
- -8 slices of bread
- -1 Tbsp. olive oil
- -1/2 onion, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
- -4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- -2 tsp. brown sugar
- -1 and 1/3 cup mozzarella Daiya
- -3 pears, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- -Earth balance or comparable butter spread
- -Salt, pinch
- Heat oil in nonstick pan over medium high. Add onion. Season with salt. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Note, it's okay if the onion slices fall apart. Add balsamic and sugar. Saute until onions begin to brown and become caramelized.
- Meanwhile, butter outer sides of each slice of bread. Once onions are finished, set aside and warm nonstick pan over medium heat. Place slices of bread in pan, butter side down. Top with 1/3 cup Daiya cheese per slice. Spread pear slices to cover the cheese, and then scatter onion mixture over top. Top with remaining slices of bread, butter side up.
- Press down on each sandwich with a spatula. Cook 1-3 minutes, or until bottom is browned, and then flip. Finish cooking until opposite side is browned and cheese is melted. Serve with any remaining pear slices on the side.