I’ve sort of constructed this sandwich over the years, adding some things, removing others, but always keeping the apple & cheddar element intact. Sharp cheddar and crisp Granny Smith apples are always such a good combo in my world, and I’ve often enjoyed them in quesadilla form as well. The addition of regular ol’ caramelized onions came pretty quickly, as the flavor combo just makes sense to me.
But the more I sat down to indulge in this sandwich, the more I felt like something was missing. Something green, aside from the green skin of the apples. While spinach makes regular appearances in my grilled cheeses, I wasn’t too keen on that idea for this particular sandwich, so I tried some heartier, sturdier kale, and have enjoyed them this way ever since.
Like last night, for example.
Well, not really. At first, I wasn’t feeling the way the kale worked with the other flavors in the sandwich, particularly with the caramelized onions. It felt like there were too much sweet-upon-sweet and not enough contrasting tang. But I really, really, really wanted kale in my sandwich, if only to pretty it up with some extra color (and to make me feel less guilty about all that cheese). After a couple more tweaks, I decided to keep the kale as the very last thing to add to the sandwich, lest it becomes too wilted, and switch from regular ol’ caramelized onions to lovely red onion marmalade.
And suddenly, all was right in my sandwich world.
With the kale hovering deliciously between tender and slightly chewy, and with the extra tang & zip provided by the onion marmalade, the whole sandwich worked much more beautifully. It also took on a more “gourmet” quality once that marmalade was thrown in there, which wasn’t the intent but still very much appreciated.
Based loosely on an onion marmalade recipe some friends & I cooked at a canning party a couple of years ago, I kept this one a little simpler and just used some fresh rosemary to enhance the flavor of the finished product. It starts off as a nice batch of caramelized onions, but with the aid of some balsamic vinegar and a little longer cooking time, it transforms into a lovely, slightly tangy marmalade that can be used on almost any savory dish.
Details Recipe Information
Prepare the red onion marmalade. In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions & salt, and cook for about 15 minutes, until softened, translucent, and beginning to caramelize. Add the sugar and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Increase heat to medium, add the balsamic vinegar & rosemary and bring to a simmer. Cook until the onions have completely caramelized and tender, stirring constantly. (Note: if you need to, reduce the flame just a little during cooking, to ensure the onions don’t burn.) Remove from heat and set aside.
* The red onion marmalade can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks. That is if it lasts that long!