There are so many ways to serve a sandwich other than just throwing two pieces of bread and some filling together. One of my favorite ways to serve sandwiches is to make them into panini. I bought a Bella panini grill a couple of years ago and I have certainly gotten use out of it.
Panini is nothing more than bread or rolls, some kind of spread, and a filling which usually involves some variety of deli meat and cheese. Often, a vegetable such as tomato is added as well. The sandwich is then heated in a sandwich press or panini grill where it is pressed flat and toasted.
If you are lucky enough to be near a bakery or a supermarket that makes a variety of breads and rolls, you are likely to find ones suitable for use in panini grills. Rolls identified simply as panini rolls or Ciabiata, Focaccia, or baguettes are all suitable for use in these types of sandwiches. Here in Charlottetown, the Atlantic Superstore has a good variety of rolls that they sell individually. You can, of course, use any plain bread you wish but the sandwich will be more interesting if made with some type of artisan bread or rolls.
Today, I am going to share with you how I make a Ham, Cheese, & Tomato Panini.
First, I have chosen puffy oval-shaped rolls that were simply labelled “Panini Rolls” at the Superstore and I split them in half, horizontally.
I sliced tomato rather thinly and sprinkled it with about 1/2 tsp. Cranberry Pear White Balsamic Vinegar from the Liquid Gold store here in Charlottetown. If you have been following my blog, you will recall the feature story I did last summer on this store and their fabulous balsamic vinegars and olive oils. I then sprinkled the tomatoes with some fresh ground pepper and sea salt and set them aside while I prepared the rest of the sandwich.
To make the mayonnaise spread, I combined 1 tbsp maple syrup with 1 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, and a pinch each of basil and chives. I then added 1 green onion, thinly sliced.
Using a good quality extra virgin olive oil (I used Liquid Gold’s Arbosana), I brushed olive oil over all the outside edges of the rolls. This is one of the occasions where you want to use the very best quality olive oil you can find because the taste really does come through.
I flipped the rolls over and spread the mayonnaise on each of the interior sides of the rolls. On one side of the roll, I started building the sandwich, starting first with a good quality Black Forest deli ham that was sliced very thin.
I then added the marinated tomatoes
and another slice of ham
and, finally, added the grated cheese.
You can use any of your favorite cheeses in this sandwich – I happened to have some Italiano mixture (mozzarella, asiago, smoked provolone, and parmesan) in the fridge so that’s what I used.
I then put the top part of the roll on the sandwich and transferred it to the heated panini grill.
I pressed and held down the top of the panini grill for about 20 seconds or so.
I grilled the sandwich on the medium setting for probably about 4-5 minutes, essentially just long enough for the sandwich to be heated, the cheese melted, and the roll to have a nice crisp crust. Since each brand of grill will differ slightly, you will want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for grilling panini and do some testing with your particular grill.
I sliced the panini diagonally and served it with carrot and celery sticks.
Ham, Cheese, & Tomato Panini
1 medium-sized tomato
1/2 tsp. Liquid Gold Cranberry Pear White Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh ground pepper and sea salt
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
pinch dried basil
pinch dried chives
1 small green onion, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
2 oz. deli-style Black Forest ham, thinly sliced
1 oz. grated Italian blend cheese
2 panini rolls of choice
1 – 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Slice tomato thinly. Drizzle with 1/2 tsp. Cranberry Pear White Balsamic Vinegar, freshly ground pepper, and sea salt. Set aside to marinate as you prepare remainder of ingredients.
In small bowl, combine the maple syrup, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, herbs, and green onion. Mix well.
Split panini roll in half, horizontally. Brush virgin olive oil on all outside edges of roll. Flip rolls over and spread mayonnaise mixture on both interior sides of roll. Lay slice of ham on one side of roll. Add the marinated tomatoes. Add second layer of ham. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Place top of roll over layers of sandwich. Transfer to heated panini maker and grill according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Makes 2 panini.