Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Panini Sandwiches

Panini are one of my favorite things to make. There are practically endless flavor combinations to suite all tastes and preferences, and they are incredibly fast and easy to make, especially if you actually have a Panini maker or similar appliance. The day I realized I could use my George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine to make these delicious pressed sandwiches was a turning point in my sandwich making endeavors! Never again will I stand over a skillet waiting for cheese to melt while my bread burns. NEVER AGAIN, I SAY!

Although the Foreman Grill (or other such appliance) makes Panini making a cinch, you could very easily achieve a similar result with a grill pan or regular skillet, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t have one of these glorious machines at your disposal!

Getting Started

Really this idea came about because I’ve been spending a lot of time cooking and preparing meals lately, and I very much wanted something that was easy to put together and took very little time to cook. Panini were the perfect fit! After hitting up my favorite fruit stand, then the cheese aisle at the nearby grocery store (where they were having a sale on cheeses – trouble in the making!), and also wanting to take advantage of my newly planted herb garden, ideas started flowing and Paninifest 2011 was under way in no time. Here are four new Panini recipes I think you’ll love as much as we did.

Panini #1: Mushroom Swiss (Dustin’s favorite)

Of course there had to be a mushroom Panini! This one took the most time to make because I first had to saute the mushrooms, but it was well worth it and so yummy! I started by dicing the onion and sauteing it in a little olive oil until softened. Then I added the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and a little bit of butter for flavor. After the mushrooms were golden and cooked through, I added the garlic and fresh herbs and cooked until I could smell the garlic, about 30 seconds.  At this point you can turn the stove off and assemble your Panini. Just remember to put a little bit of butter on one side of your bread slices (the side that will be touching the grill). Once I put the sandwiches on and closed the lid I set a timer for 2 min. That’s right; it only takes 2 minutes!

Ingredients for 2 Sandwiches

1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 large package of Shitake mushrooms, sliced
8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp olive oil, depending on the type of pan you are using, you may need more or less
2 tsp butter for sauteing
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove of garlic
2 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 rosemary sprig, finely chopped (remove leaves from stem by pulling against the grain)
1 thyme sprig, finely chopped
4 slices Swiss cheese (I used reduced fat and it worked out great)
Butter for spreading on bread (I use Land O Lakes light butter with canola oil; it’s half the fat and calories, spreads easily, and still gives a good buttery flavor – just don’t cook with it or add it to popcorn…unless you enjoy soggy popcorn, then go right ahead!)
4 slices sourdough bread (I use sourdough because it is delicious, holds up well in the Foreman grill, and doesn’t get soggy like some softer breads will)

Panini #2: Pear Havarti

This one was my favorite, and Dustin even liked it despite his initial resistance to combining sweet and savory. Just put a layer of pear slices (about 1/4 pear per sandwich), a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh rosemary, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and top it off with a slice of creamy, smooth Havarti cheese. You’ll really be surprised by this flavor combo, and I have to give credit to my wonderful mom who let me in on the rosemary cinnamon secret. Just make sure not to put too much rosemary on; it can quickly overpower the sandwich.

Ingredients for 2 Sandwiches

1/2 ripe green pear
2 slices Havarti cheese
Sprinkle of fresh rosemary
Sprinkle of cinnamon
4 slices sourdough bread
Butter for spreading on bread

Panini #3: Avocado, Tomato & Pepper Jack

I was really inspired by my favorite guacamole recipe when putting this one together. Simply put a layer of avocado, diced tomato (fruit stand or grape tomatoes work best), a little bit of garlic, coarse salt and pepper, fresh cilantro, and top with a slice of spicy pepper jack.

            Ingredients for 2 Sandwiches

1 avocado
1/3 -1/2 small tomato
1/4 clove garlic – a little goes a LONG way
1/2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
Coarse salt and pepper to taste
2 slices pepper jack (reduced fat works great here as well)
4 slices sourdough bread
Butter for spreading on bread

Panini #4: Apple Cheddar

This one was the easiest to make and had a wonderful, mildly sweet flavor. All you need is a layer of apple slices, a sprinkle of ground nutmeg, and sharp cheddar cheese.

            Ingredients for 2 Sandwiches

            1/2 apple
3 slices sharp cheddar
Sprinkle of nutmeg
4 slices sourdough bread
Butter for spreading on bread

Wrapping it Up
That’s it for this blog entry! I hope you found a Panini (or four) you might want to try. Let me know if you like it by leaving a comment below!

Special thanks to Dustin for taking the brunt of the eating on this Panini expedition!

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  1. I love this blog..anytime I need some good food now, its right at my fingertips!!! I love Panini sandwiches!

  2. Thanks, Sirena! I'm so glad you like it!

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