Apple, Bacon, Caramelized Red Onion Sandwiches with Arugula-Thyme Spread

October  4, 2022
1 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 2 sandwiches
Author Notes

Y'all, sometimes I just want a really, really good sandwich, one that rises above the standard turkey or tuna. I want every element to be flavorful and well-considered, and I definitely want the sum to be more than the parts. If juices run down my hands and arms, that's great. If I use three napkins before finishing the sandwich, that's great too.

A sandwich, almost more than any other food compilation, wants regular juxtapositions like salty and sweet, soft and firm.

This is my chilly rainy-day sandwich: It comforts, fills, and often, I eat two.

You can easily double or triple this recipe because you will have leftover caramelized onions (which are so good in so many ways). —em-i-lis

Test Kitchen Notes

A perfect sandwich for this time of year. It has a playful interplay of flavors and textures, and I found it was particularly smart to pair thinly sliced apple with a smoky or sharp cheese (I used Cheddar). The Dijon mustard is a very strong flavor—use it sparingly so as to let the other flavors shine through. —mitschlag

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into half-moon slivers
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
  • 4 slices bacon; I like thick-cut
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced very thinly; a mandoline is perfect for this
  • 2 thick slices applewood-smoked mozzarella or sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 handful arugula
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  1. In a 10- or 12-inch skillet set over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the slivered onions and crushed red pepper and stir to combine everything well. Let the onions cook for 10 minutes, stirring only occasionally. When they're soft and becoming translucent, add the balsamic vinegar. Cook another 5 to 10 minutes. You want the onions to be very soft and flavorful, and for some to have started to crisp slightly.
  2. In the meantime, fry your bacon and then set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. In a food processor, blitz together the mayo, arugula, and thyme. Season with salt to taste. If you feel you want it a bit looser, add some of your bacon drippings. Yum.
  4. Toast the bread. Spread two slices with a thin layer of Dijon mustard and the other two slices with the arugula-thyme mayo. Add one slice of cheese, 6 to 8 slivers of apple, two slices of bacon, and a generous spoon of caramelized onions to each sandwich. Close them up and dig in!
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • JanetFL
  • chimera
  • em-i-lis
  • Redd Michaelson
    Redd Michaelson

8 Reviews

Redd M. January 4, 2016
Not to be difficult, but your instructions never tell you to put the bacon on the sandwich. I am all for bacon with a side of bacon, but I'm sure it would go great on the sandwich too. Also the photo shows some whole leaf vegetable on the sandwich, I am assuming it is more arugula.
em-i-lis January 4, 2016
Hey Redd,
Thanks so much for letting me know that I never mention adding the bacon. It's critical!! :) Will update now.
I don't add whole leaf anything but maybe the Food52 team wanted more arugula. It's flexible!
Bascula October 30, 2015
We had this last night, and it was very satisfying with a wide range of flavors and textures. It had a lot of "parts", but none of them were difficult to put together and most could be put together ahead of time (which I didn't do). Yum!
em-i-lis October 30, 2015
Hi Bascula,
Thank you so much for trying the recipe. There are multiple parts but I'm happy you didn't feel any of them was too much work and that the sandwiches were worth it! :)
JanetFL October 28, 2015
Yum,'s our dinner tonight! Thank you!
em-i-lis October 28, 2015
Oh, fantastic, Janet! I hope y'all enjoy the sandwiches!!!!
chimera October 12, 2015
I can't wait to make this with turkey bacon! I think I'm going to make this as a dinner - some nights we "picnic" outside and this feels like a good backyard picnicking sandwich!
em-i-lis October 12, 2015
I love picnic dinners and agree that this would be perfect for that. Let me know how you like it, and thank you, chimera!!!!