Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Panini

(NC)—While the grilled cheese sandwich is nothing new, it’s enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity across North America. Grilled cheese restaurants, specialty grilled cheese food trucks, and gourmet recipes are turning up everywhere. In fact, Canadians eat over 200 million grilled cheese sandwiches a year. That’s 400 million slices of bread!

In keeping with this hot food trend, here is a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich recipe you can make at home. The caramelized onion combined with fresh tomatoes, cheese and basil on fresh bread, makes a delicious meal and can even be used as an appetizer if cut up into bite size sandwiches:

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Panini


1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp (5 mL) brown sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter, softened
8 slices Dempster’s Stays Fresh white bread
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
Thin slices Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium. Add onion and sugar and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium low and add balsamic vinegar. Sauté 2 minutes more, remove from heat and set aside. Preheat Panini press on high. Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread and place butter side down.

Layer 4 slices of bread with tomato and Mozzarella cheese. Top with equal amounts of basil and caramelized onions and season with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining slices of bread. Place sandwiches on Panini press and close. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is golden. Sandwiches can also be cooked in a large non-stick frying pan at medium heat for 2-3 minutes per side. Serve warm.

Canada’s Food Guide recommends that we should eat six to eight servings of grains per day. Additional recipes to achieve this are available online at

John Placko is the director of culinary excellence, Dempster’s