Caramelized Red Onion and Blue Cheese Panini

Makes 4 sandwiches.

Note: Plan ahead, as the caramelization takes about 2 hours. Be sure to slice the onions from root to tip, not around the equator, to get the best results. Vegans can sub their favorite tangy nut-cheese, or even marinate crumbled tofu in vinegar and salt for a feta-like presence. From Robin Asbell.

• 2 lb. red onion (2 big ones), sliced root to tip to make 8 c. slivers

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 3 oz. (1/2 c.) blue cheese, crumbled

• 2 small pears, cored and sliced

• 2 c. baby spinach, washed and dried

• 1 large baguette, halved for sandwiches

• Oil for grilling


In a large sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and stir, carefully, to coat with oil. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the onions are sizzling and starting to soften. Sprinkle with salt. Reduce to medium-low and stir every 15 minutes for at least 2 hours. The onions will shrink down to about 1 1/4 cup. When they are melted and sweet, take off the heat and scrape into a small bowl. This can be done up to a week ahead of time.

To serve, crumble the blue cheese into the bowl and fold into the onions. Open up the baguette pieces and divide the onion mixture between them, spreading it on the lower piece of the bread. Cover with sliced pears and spinach, and close the sandwiches.

Preheat a panini grill on high, and brush the sandwich with oil. Place 2 sandwiches on the grill and close the top. Grill for about 4 minutes, then serve hot.

Alternative stovetop instructions: Heat 2 large cast-iron skillets over high heat for 3 minutes. Place 2 sandwiches in 1 pan, then place the other pan on top. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes per side.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 520 Fat 20 g Sodium 1,050 mg

Carbohydrates 73 g Saturated fat 6 g Total sugars 20 g

Protein 16 g Cholesterol 15 mg Dietary fiber 7 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 fruit, 3 starch, 1 carb, 1 high-fat protein, 2 fat.