Cheryl's Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Pears

Source: Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, Cowgirl Creamery

Recipe Type: | Seasons: ,

This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on May 24, 2014.

Caramelizing diced pear along with the onions gives this sandwich a hint of sweetness that works well with the rich flavors of the cheese. If pears aren’t in season, caramelize the onion by itself and slather a thick layer of fig preserves onto the bread before you add the cheese and grill the sandwich.

Makes 3 sandwiches


3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup medium-diced yellow onion
1 cup peeled, seeded, and diced pear (preferably Comice or Asian pear)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces medium-grated semisoft cheese (such as Wagon Wheel, Gruyere, or Monterey Jack)
4 ounces fromage blanc
6 slices soft bread, such as potato or pain de mie
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)


1.    In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter with the olive oil over medium heat. When the butter is bubbling, add the onion and the pear to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until the onion and pear are translucent and browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, remove the pan from the heat, and set it aside to cool.

2.    In a mixing bowl, combine the two cheeses. When the onion-pear mixture is cool or just barely warm, add it to the cheese. Keep in mind that if it’s mixed in when hot, the cheese will melt and clump, causing it to cook unevenly.

3.    Spread the cheese mixture on one side of three of the bread slices. Spread the mustard, if desired, on one side of the remaining bread slices and place the slices mustard-side down on the cheese mixture to make sandwiches. Butter the outside of each sandwich on both sides with the remaining two tablespoons butter.

4.    Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or any large pan with a heavy bottom over medium heat.

5.    Place a sandwich in the heated pan and cook until the bread touching the pan is golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Flip the sandwich and continue to cook until the cheese is completely melted and the bottom of the sandwich is golden brown. Repeat for each sandwich and serve immediately.

Photo by Jennifer Kregear.

Farmers Market Ingredients