Lately, I’ve become a little obsessed with caramelized onions… Weird, I know. I think it stemmed from this amazing BBQ veggie burger I had that was just piled high with them, along with blue cheese and tang sauce. Also obsessed with pretzel bread – um, who isn’t? Lucky for me, onions are wicked cheap and pretzel bread/buns are widely available in the average grocery store. And so, on one random craving filled day, this delicious sandwich was born.
To start, you need to caramelize some onions. The process is really easy but does take a little time, so either make the onions ahead of time and keep them handy in the fridge/freezer, or be prepared to salivate heavily as you wait impatiently for the onions to be finished. See my recipe for the Balsamic Caramelized Onions I used in this sandwich, or use your own method. Then, gather everything you need for the sandwiches. It’s pretty much just whatever you want. This time, I went with a bit of a Mediterranean feel, but before I became vegetarian, pretzel bread hoagies were the perfect vehicle for a plain old hot ham and cheese.
I used artichoke quarters, sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic caramelized onions, mild banana peppers and mozzarella cheese slices. My grocery store carries the hoagie style pretzel buns, but I’ve also seen round hamburger sized at other stores. Costco even carries smaller round ones if you want to go for sliders. You can also make your own pretzel buns if you are so inclined – more about that on another day! If you don’t have pretzel buns, use whatever sounds good to you. And if you hate pretzel bread, or have special dietary needs, please feel free to use any other bread you like. Just remember that it will need to hold plenty of toppings!
Prep the buns by slicing them and tearing out a little from the middle of each half. Gotta make room for the good stuff! Toast the torn out parts for bread crumbs if you like, or just toss them out to the birds. My squirrels just love me… Also, preheat the oven to about 375*F.
Start the layering with a slice of mozzarella on each half of the bun. Some of my ingredients are a little juicy, and layering the cheese on the top and bottom helps keep the bread from getting soggy. Depending on the size/shape of your buns, you may need to tear the cheese in half, or add more/less.
The artichokes are my most “meaty” ingredient here, so I layered them after the cheese.
Next, I added the sun-dried tomatoes. Personally, I like them a little chewy, but if you want to soften them up a bit just soak them in a little warm water for 5-10 minutes while you get all the other sandwich ingredients together.
Now for my favorite – the massively delicious balsamic caramelized onions. Let’s just take a moment to reflect on how amazing that looks. Just try not to get drool on your sandwiches. That would be gross…
Top these off with a few mild banana pepper rings. Or don’t. Whatever floats your boat!
Now get those babies in the oven! At this point, I only put the bottoms in so they can really get warmed through, without over toasting the tops. If you forgot to preheat the oven like I do half the time, you could easily broil these on low, but make sure you keep a close eye on them.
Once the cheese is good and melty (melty? Yes, I think I just made that up…). I think “melted” is what I was going for… Whatever! Anyway, when the cheese is melted (mine took about 10 minutes), add the tops on the baking sheet and pop everything back in for another 5 minutes or so to melt that cheese, too.
Once the cheese on the tops is melted as well, pull them out of the oven. Oh man, the suspense is killing me. These smell SO GOOD!!!! The peppers and onions and tomatoes just come wafting up to smack me in the face as soon as I open the oven…
Your sandwich masterpiece! Enjoy. :-)
Veggie & Caramelized Onions on Pretzel Bread Hoagies
Pretzel bread hoagies can hold any of your favorite ingredients, but this Mediterranean combo makes my mouth water. Make a few for a weeknight meal, or several sliders for game day party food that will impress! Add an extra 45 minutes of prep time if you don't already have caramelized onions on hand.