So something fantastic scurried through my twitter feed this week about April being grilled cheese month… As I dug further down the cheesehole, I found out there was actually a grilled cheese showdown going on out in L.A. this weekend , which made me think: What would I submit if I were entering? My main ingredients instantly came to mind: I flashed back to last weekend where I spent some time touring the vineyards of North Fork, Long Island. On the tasting barn’s wall at Shinn Estate, there was a framed magazine clipping of a fontina and grape flatbread pizza. It was the kind of picture that made you stop and stare – or maybe that’s just the food-lover in me. Regardless, I was drooling at the mere sight of it and today I thought, why not fontina and grape grilled cheese?
The decision to roast the grapes for this recipe was easy because, in effect, that was what was naturally occurring as they cooked on top of the pizza. The result of roasting these violet clusters is something short of magical. The heat transforms the young punchy sugars of the grapes into concentrated and mature “adult” sugar; something a little less edgy. Add this sweetness to the nutty creamy fontina cheese, sweet caramelized red onions, and earthy rosemary and you’ve got quite a sophisticated sandwich.
Hold onto your wine glasses, kids, it’s time for a grilled cheese for grownups!
Fontina & Roasted Grape Grilled Cheese
1 medium red onion, sliced into rings
2 cups* black seedless grapes (off the stem)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Fontina cheese
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
4 slices of bread
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put onion and grapes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 30-35 minutes, shuffling grapes and onions around midway. You will know they’re done when the grapes are blistered, wrinkly, and mostly collapsed, and onions are shriveled.
Preheat panini press. Lightly brush one side of each slice of bread with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Toss fontina cheese and rosemary in a small bowl to combine. Top dry side of two bread slices with cheese. Divide the grapes and onions evenly and place on top of cheese. Place the remaining slices dry side down on top of the pile.
Cook on panini press for 5 – 8 minutes or until all cheese has melted and bread is golden brown. Devour immediately.
*It couldn’t hurt to roast a few extra for picking. What began as a taste test of one or two roasted grapes turned into a full-out snack session. The flavor is addictive.