gruyere grilled cheese with apple salad

What happened to fall? I was just starting to enjoy the crisp fall leaves, wearing sweaters in the appropriate season, and eating yummy cinnamony things. Instead I get a hurricane. I’m from the Midwest so hurricanes don’t make sense to me. Several days of preparation, waiting, anticipating, and praying that everything is okay and this thing is moving a whopping 10 miles an hour, TEN!! I had cabin fever before it even passed North Carolina! To add to my anxiety, we’re in what is called a Category 4 flood zone and what is now a voluntary evacuation zone. So, we’re just going to hope there aren’t any category 4 floods. On a positive note, I’ve learned some new scientific terms, like “storm surge,” and I have even memorized the time for high tide in our neighborhood as if it were Maghrib during Ramadan.

While I’m holed up, and hoping we emerge from this unscathed, I hope you have a chance to enjoy some lovely fall weather. Here’s a delicious sandwich and salad to keep you company!

Gruyere Grilled Cheese with Apple Salad

4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
¾ cup ¼” thick sliced shallots
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ¼” thick slices country-style white bread (I used Martin’s 100% Whole Wheat Potato Bread)
8 oz Gruyere, sliced ⅛” thick
2 cups arugula
½ apple cut into ¼” slices
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over high heat. When butter begins to foam, add shallots and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or spatula, until shallots begin to soften and caramelize, 4-5 minutes; remove from heat and set aside.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, add 1 tbsp of butter and swirl in pan to melt butter and coat bottom of pan. Add 2 slices of bread to pan and cook until golden brown and crisp on the bottom, 2-3 minutes. Transfer bread, toasted side down to a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining butter and bread slices. Divide cheese evenly among bread slices; top cheese with reserved shallots.

Place baking sheet in oven and bake until cheese is melted, 7-8 minutes.

Combine Arugula, apple slices, lemon juice and oil in a large bowl; toss to coat and evenly distribute. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper.

Press 2 pieces of bread together, and cut on a diagonal and place on a plate. Divide salad between plates.

Cooking Notes: I made this twice, once following the directions as listed and baking the cheese, and also by making it the traditional way – melting the cheese between slices of bread while on the skillet. Both techniques offered a great sandwich and I found no noticeable difference between the two. The second version was just simpler. You could probably also cut down on the amount of butter by just buttering 1 side of each slice of bread – but really, this sandwich is not pretending to be healthy. Do not omit the shallots, they are absolutely amazing in this grilled cheese. I’m not sure how I’ve made grilled cheese sandwiches without shallots before.

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