03 October 2011

This is a recipe that my husband saw in Food Network Magazine and decided we HAD to try.  The recipe comes from Jeff Mauro, who won the most recent Next Food Network star.  He has a new show called Sandwich King.  We really like Jeff, his show, and his recipes.  So I was excited to try this recipe too.  I had never bought Manchego before and had no idea what it would taste like.  It's great in a grilled cheese!

Manchego Squash Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

4 tbsp butter, plus more for the bread
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ butternut squash, peeled, seeded; and sliced ¼” inch thick
1 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
8 slices country white bread
1 pound manchego cheese, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt 2 tbsp butter. Combine butter, maple syrup, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Toss the squash with the syrup mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Roast until golden and soft, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Sautè the sliced onion strips for 5 minutes on medium high heat, stirring often.  Cover the pan and lower the heat to medium, stirring every 2 minutes until onions are golden (about 10 minutes).

Sandwich build! Butter 1 slice of bread. On the unbuttered side, add the ingredients in this order from the ground up: manchego, squash, caramelized onion, sliced almonds, and more manchego. Close with another buttered bread slice, buttered side up. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 3 more sandwiches.

Heat a heavy griddle or flat pan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter in the pan. Lightly cook each sandwich, in batches if necessary, until the cheese starts to melt, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Low and slow is the key here so you don't kill your bread before the delicious innards get gooey.

Makes 4 servings.

I didn't change much from Jeff's original recipe.  His called for adding balsamic vinegar to the caramelized onions, but I didn't have any and I love them just plain anyway, so I left that out.  I also changed the method of caramelizing the onions, because Jeff's method didn't work for me.  I used the method I used when making Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas.  Speaking of quesadillas, you could totally make these as quesadillas instead of sandwiches.

These sandwiches are really good!  They've got the whole salty/sweet thing going on with the salty cheese and sweet butternut squash.  Then you throw in some crunch with the sliced almonds.  Awesome.

I made this as my meatless meal of the week, served with a zucchini cheddar soup that I will share with you later.

I am intrigued by Jeff's show because I don't make very many sandwiches for dinner.  I've always thought of sandwiches as boring lunch food, but Jeff has some great ideas for turning any meal into a sandwich.  I like that idea!  If you haven't checked out Jeff's show, I highly recommend you do.  I think the first season is over, but he'll be back with a bunch more awesome sandwich recipes.

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