Friday, August 05, 2005

You say Panini I say Panino

I love sandwiches but love panini even more! The flavors of these pressed sandwiches intensifies but blend together to a wonderful, tantalizing treat. mmmm... Pretty much any combination of so-so sandwiches becomes smackdillyicous. Here are some that I've made up based on my favorite foods. Use organic when available for the best flavors and better nutrition. For all of these recipies, I use two slices rustic but light bread (1/2 wheat, 1/2 white), unless otherwise noted. Use the cheese to bind the bread to the ingredients. Once you've put all of these ingredients on your bread, coat the preheated pan or panini grill with a very thin layer of olive oil and place the panini on the grill or, if using a pan, add the panini press to squish all of the juices together. You won't need to pile them high and even though they look small once pressed, don't be deceived, they are very satisfying.

Spanish panini
thinly sliced Manchego cheese
4-6 seeded dates split in half
2-4 slices Serrano or Proscuitto ham

French panini
yellow roasted pepper pieces
goat cheese
Herbs de Provence or any blend of available herbs.

Italian panini
I call this the antipasto, chef's choice. If I have friends over for dinner, I basically have all of the ingredients that would be on an antipasto platter and throw 3-4 ingredients together (1-2 meats, 1 cheese, 1-2 vegetable) for each sandwich and grill away. I doubt that I've ever made the same combination twice.
olive tapanade (throw drained, seedless olives into the food processor with a little olive oil to make it bind)
Seeded and split calamata olives
thinly sliced Parmesan cheese
Mozarella - fresh mini or sliced
Sopressatta and/or other spicy salami
Arugula (4-6 pieces) or fresh spinach
roasted peppers
quartered artichoke hearts
sun-dried Roma tomatoes
red pepper flakes

Mexican style (quesadilla style)
fill 1/2 a tortilla with:
pepperjack cheese
shredded chicken breast meat (good use for left overs)
tomato slices
chipotle spice

Saving the best for last...Dessert!
Food & Wine magazine suggested pressing a sugared donut or even brioche with strawberry jam and mascarpone cheese. I prefer the more traditional, buttered bread (skip the olive oil) or unbuttered croissant with several pieces of chocolate. Don't put too much on the bread or you'll have a chocolate mess to clean up. Bon Appetite!


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