The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sarnie

by Holly on October 17, 2011

in recipes,storytime,travel

Before the sandwich that changed my life, there was the REAL sandwich that changed my life.

That real life-changing sandwich entered my eager stomach in August 2007 on a post-college European rendezvous with two of my best friends. Wandering through Borough Market on a leisurely Saturday morning in London, I happened to pass by a seemingly unspecial food cart but within two seconds, was stopped dead in my Everythingtarian tracks.

My nose sniffed. And sniffed again. Then couldn’t resist sniffing over and over.

Garlic…that’s definitely onion…oohhh, cheese too…and there must be some buttah!

Whatever fantastical concoction it was, my nose already knew what my stomach needed. The fact it wasn’t even 10:00am yet or that I had already eaten breakfast didn’t at all matter.

Placing my aviator sunglasses atop my head, I swiftly turned around and saw a red and yellow-painted food stand. The colors gave me visions of Ronald McDonald and HFCS-laden food, but my soon-to-be food blogger self rightly knew that whatever they were crafting in that cart, it was going to be about 1,298,324x more delicious than a Big Mac and Coke.

One look at the sign, and I knew I was right:

A toasted leek and garlic sarnie.

Five pounds + 50 pence later, I took my first bite.




The ultimate!



With a mouth full of sandwich, I looked over at my friends and mumbled as hot cheese dripped down my lip, “This is sandwich is the shit!” (<- I’m real eloquent, I know). Garlicky, potent and English cheddar-filled, it was nothing short of the earthly equivalent of a foodie nirvana.

More than four years later, I still think about that sandwich.

And when I leave for a whirlwind vacation to London and Paris in two weeks, you can bet your entire savings, house and born (or unborn) children that I will be making a return trip to Borough Market just to eat this sandwich a second time. Bet on it…really! You could make some mad cash off my deep love for all things garlic, leek and cheese-filled.

But until then, enjoy my scarily close re-creation.

A bit healthier and smaller in size but much cheaper than a trans-Atlantic flight to London.

Perhaps enjoy it with a bowl of Curried Tomato Soup?


The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sarnie

1 large head of garlic
2 T olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup leeks, sliced
8 slices of thick, whole wheat bread*
1 1/3 cups shredded English cheddar cheese
4 T butter

*I used plain Ezekiel sprouted bread

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut top off of garlic head, and place on aluminum foil sheet roughly 10 inches x 10 inches. Drizzle garlic with 1 T of olive oil. Wrap the head of garlic securely with the foil, and place in oven. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes or until cloves are soft. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, heat 1 T of olive oil. Add onion and leeks. Stir occasionally until onions and leeks have caramelized. This will take 10 to 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, squeeze garlic cloves out of the head and mix with caramelized onions & leeks.

For each sandwich, spread 1/4 of garlic & leek mixture on one side of bread and place 1/3 cup of cheese on top of other slice. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt 1/2 T butter. Put cheese-topped bread slice down first in melted butter, and place garlic & leek slice on top.

Cook for 4 to 6 minutes until golden brown. Remove sandwich, melt another 1/2 T butter and flip the sandwich to brown the other side.

Makes 4 sandwiches


lynn @ the actor's diet October 17, 2011 at 9:15 pm

GARLIC AND LEEKS. You’ve done it, Holly – you’ve really done it!

Pure2raw twins October 17, 2011 at 9:17 pm

love garlic and leeks! this sandwich looks wonderful!!!

sofia October 17, 2011 at 9:22 pm

roasted garlic in a grilled cheese-like sandwich? genius.

glidingcalm October 17, 2011 at 9:31 pm

i have no idea what this would taste like, but i bet it is good. plus i trust you. :)

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga October 17, 2011 at 9:33 pm

that DOES look like the ultimate G.C. Sammie

And that soup. I want that too!

Julia H. @ The Petite Spiel October 17, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Oh Holly..only YOU can come up with something that makes me actually crave a grilled cheese (which I usually don’t like). Then again, throw massive amounts of garlic in anything & I’m all for it.

lora October 17, 2011 at 11:13 pm

you had me at cheese and garlic…then i died when the curry tomato soup entered the picture. now i am craving a fancy grilled cheese. Thank god there is delivery in CHicago at this hour…..


Lauren October 17, 2011 at 11:21 pm

That does look amazing! Someone could make a killing on my love of cheese filled anything (gluten free, that’s the catch)… Until then, I’ll be making this sandwich my GF way :) Thanks for the great recipe. Now, if only it would drop below 80… I’d enjoy this with some soup.

Erica October 18, 2011 at 12:42 am

Oh my gosh! How yummy! Roasted garlic is amazing!

Brittany October 18, 2011 at 5:19 am

Is it crazy that I have never had leeks?! Ahh I need to try this :)

Alissa - Not Just Apples October 18, 2011 at 5:21 am

Goodness gracious that looks incredible! The way you explained it made me want to eat it straight from the screen… mmm.

Hillary October 18, 2011 at 6:09 am

For a minute, I thought the entire head of roasted garlic was going to be used for one sandwich.

Is it weird that I was totally down with that? No? Good!

Lauren October 18, 2011 at 7:15 am

I’m pretty sure this sandwich would be life changing! Sounds delicious.

Kathryn October 18, 2011 at 7:18 am

I really need to get down to Borough pronto and get myself one of them!

V October 18, 2011 at 8:02 am
Andrea@WellnessNotes October 18, 2011 at 9:05 am

Looks AMAZING!!!

Lindsay @ Lindsay's List October 18, 2011 at 9:18 am

wow! I’m not sure Travis would allow me around him after eating this thing!!! And I totally wouldn’t care – looks sinful!

Carolyn October 18, 2011 at 10:03 am

Leeks? Garlic? Cheese? I’m sorry…but I’m going to need a moment.

I think I might just die of bliss if I eat one. But I’m willing to take that risk! ;)

Lara October 18, 2011 at 11:06 am

Borough Market was a life-changing discovery for me! I wish that every foodie could visit once in they life :)
I am totally trying this sarnie…I’m a leek lover <3

emily (a nutritionist eats) October 18, 2011 at 11:08 am

Ummmm, all of my favorite things together!!! Ah!

Shannon October 18, 2011 at 11:54 am

Oooooo sounds good!!!! I’ll have to try that in my new grill pan when I move!!!

Jen@FoodFamilyFitness October 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Sweeet melty garlicky love!!! Holy crap, I’m drooling over this sandwich!

Megan (Braise the Roof) October 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Holy crap that sounds amazing. Makes me want to ditch the healthy non-cheese laden dinner I had planned for tonight. :)

Claire @ Un Bello Aperitivo October 19, 2011 at 10:34 am

This is a revelation. I think I need to recreate this on rye bread with hummus. Although that would probably be changing the whole concept, it would make a killer sandwich, right?

Sarah@The Flying ONION October 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm

There are certain things in life that leave an ultimate, everlasting impression. I can totally see why you were all over that sandwich.

For me it was bread in Canada. I’ve always loved bread but OH MY WORD! Buttery, flaky, doughy…everything all in one bite. It was heaven. :D

galit October 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm

sounds lush – hope you have a brilliant trip over to my side of the pond – might have to track down that grilled cheese next time I’m in London…

LindsayC77 October 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Oh, I WILL be making that sandwich as soon as humanly possible. I am willing to bet that Sartori cheese — maybe a combination of MontAmore and SarVecchio parmesan? mmm! — would be DIVINE in this. And I just got leeks and onions from my CSA.

Isn’t it awesome how life aligns so beautifully sometimes?

Emily October 24, 2011 at 7:57 pm

£5.50 for a sandwich?! Wowww London is expensive! I’m used to dirt cheap Northern prices haha :) This looks freaking delicious though. Cheese – good, leeks – good, roasted garlic – GOOOOOD

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