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Grilled Panini Sandwiches to Die For

Grilled Panini SandwichesMaking grilled cheese or any type of panini sandwich is sooo much simpler if you use a grill sandwich maker. But if you don’t have a dedicated panini press, you can use a grill pan coupled with a heavy cast iron skillet as a press for very similar results.

Paninis are one of my favorite quick lunch or light dinner options, but what I love most about them is that there are literally no limits to sandwich recipes you can come up with.

Simply let your imagination run loose and combine flavors that go well together. Between breads, cheeses, meats, vegetables and condiments, you will never run out of options. Here a few panini ideas to get you started.

BLT with Creamy Avocado Spread

BLT with Creamy Avocado SpreadAny purist would argue that, by definition, the ever popular BLT must contain bacon, iceberg lettuce and tomato (hence its moniker) on soft white bread thickly spread with mayo.

A little too predictable if you ask me. So here are three takes on the classic BLT sandwich recipe you may want to try, but you may want to get creative and come up with your own favorite combos.

Yields 2 sandwiches

Basic Sandwich Ingredients:
4 slices sourdough bread
2 tablespoons melted butter
8 leaves Boston bibb lettuce
2 medium Heirloom tomatoes (red and yellow preferably)
6 slices cooked bacon (not too crispy)
Salt and pepper to taste

Avocado Spread Ingredients:
1 ripe avocado, skin removed and seeded, cut into small chunks
½ cup 2% Greek yogurt
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1½ tablespoon fresh lime juice (approximately ½ lime)
1½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Avocado Spread Prep
Place avocado, Greek yogurt and garlic in a glass bowl and combine thoroughly with a fork – do not worry about some remaining small chunks of avocado. Add lime juice and cumin; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Let sit for approximately 30 minutes, giving the flavors a chance to meld. Adjust seasonings before spreading.

Sandwich Assembly
Brush one side of each piece of bread with melted butter. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat and place bread on pan, buttered side down. Apply light pressure to each slice with a spatula, being careful not to move the bread in the process. Once nice grill marks have formed, remove bread from the pan and turn off the heat.

Allow bread to cool slightly before spreading avocado mixture on the non-grilled side of two of the slices. Add lettuce, tomato and bacon slices before topping with the remaining pieces of bread. Cut in half and serve with your favorite side dish or chips.

Italian Panini Sandwich

Italian Panini SandwichOrder a classic Italian sub sandwich, and you can expect a mixture of cured meats (salami, pepperoni, ham) topped with provolone cheese on an Italian-style roll. Toppings might include onions, tomatoes and/or crispy lettuce plus a generous amount of Italian dressing.

Our Italian sandwich recipe substitutes a super soft artisanal white bread, ditches the dressing and finishes with a touch of gentle toasting – yum! Let your imagination run wild, and see what delicious paninis you can create with your own combination of flavors.

TIP: For a milder flavor, soak the red onion slices in water for at least half an hour first. This process will also soften them. Remove from water, pat dry and set aside.

Yields 2 sandwiches

½ small red onion, sliced thin
4 slices thick-cut artisanal white bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 romaine lettuce leaves, washed, dried (tough bottom ribs removed)
1 tomato, washed, dried and sliced
4 ounces hard salami
4 ounces Italian deli ham
2 ounces pepperoni
4 ounces sliced provolone cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Gourmet Grilled Cheese Paninis X 3

Gourmet Grilled Cheese PaninisWhen it comes to warm, comforting simple dinners, it’s a sure bet that a grilled cheese sandwich accompanied by a bowl of warm tomato soup (whether homemade or Campbell’s) evokes fuzzy childhood memories.

Here are three grown up variations of the classic grilled cheese sandwich recipe (melted Cheddar or American cheese on soft white bread). Guaranteed to blow your socks off and hopefully inspire you to come up with your own grilled cheese ideas!

Note that the same process applies no matter which combination you choose.

Yield: 2 sandwiches per combo

Brie & Fig Gourmet Grilled Cheese #1
8 ounces Brie, rind removed
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, rolled and cut into thin strips
1 cup arugula, washed and dried
4 tablespoons fig jam
4 slices sourdough bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Brush one side of each slice of bread with melted butter. Place 2 slices in a non-stick skillet and adjust heat to medium. Add half the Brie, prosciutto and arugula to each slice, making sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Spread fig jam on the dry side of the other 2 slices. Place on top of the assembled sandwiches in the pan, buttered side up. Press down on each sandwich with a spatula to ensure even contact and to help the interior ingredients heat evenly.

Carefully flip each sandwich and brown on the remaining side, pressing down with a spatula to ensure even contact with the hot pan surface. Once evenly browned on both sides, remove from heat, cut in half and serve warm.

Follow the same process for the next two combos:

Gourmet Grilled Cheese # 2
2 ripe peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
6 ounces Muenster cheese
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
2 tablespoons honey
4 slices white bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Gourmet Grilled Cheese # 3
6 ounces smoked Gouda, sliced
1 ripe pear (with skin), washed, cored and cut into thin slices
1 cup arugula, washed and dried
2 tablespoons jalapeno jelly or jam
4 slices ciabatta bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Warm Turkey, Pesto and Provolone Sandwich

Grilled Sandwich with Pesto & CheeseThe combined flavors of fresh basil, toasted pine nuts and garlic add welcome depth to this quick and delicious grilled turkey sandwich recipe, making it hard to believe how simple it is to make.

A few extra minutes of grilling – adding a little crunch while melting the cheese and heating up the turkey – take this mouthwatering combo to a whole new level. No one will ever believe how simple it was to make…

Pesto
3 cups fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
½ cup toasted pine nuts
½ cup high-quality extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup hard cheese (such as Parmigiano Reggiano), finely grated

Sandwich
2 crusty French rolls
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
5 tablespoons pesto (see above)
6-8 ounces deli turkey breast, thin sliced
4 ounces Provolone cheese, sliced

Yields 2 sandwiches

Making Pesto
Combine basil, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely ground. Slowly add olive oil and blend until the mixture becomes smooth. Transfer to a glass bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir in grated cheese until thoroughly combined.

Use immediately or freeze unused portion in ice cube trays, topped with additional olive oil. Use frozen pesto cubes in soups or stews for added flavor as needed.

Sandwich Prep
Cut French rolls in half lengthwise and butter the inside portion of both halves. Place buttered side down on grill pan heated over medium-high heat. Press down on the outside of the roll to achieve even grill marks. When golden brown, remove from heat and spread a generous amount of pesto on the warm, grilled portion of each piece.

Heat turkey in the microwave with a little bit of chicken or vegetable stock till warm. Add turkey and Provolone cheese to each roll. The heat from the turkey and the grilled roll should melt the cheese. Serve immediately.

Grilled Chicken Wrap

Grilled Chicken WrapHealthy chicken lettuce wraps are always a welcome change from more traditional sandwiches. Cut a wrap into diagonal sections each secured with a festive toothpick, and you have a dish you can serve proudly at your next backyard party!

Our chicken wrap recipe (with bacon and ranch dressing) is certainly delicious as is, but think outside the box for a moment: warm bacon and chicken oozing with melted cheese…

Super easy to make with a panini grill capable of making open melt sandwiches – or just follow the steps below.

Makes 2 wraps

2 8-inch spinach wraps
4 leaves Romaine lettuce, washed, dried, tough bottom ribs removed
5 ounces chicken breast, cooked, warmed, cut into small chunks
6 slices bacon, cooked (not too crispy)
1 ripe tomato, seeded and cut into small chunks
1½ ounce shredded provolone cheese
1½ ounce shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons ranch dressing

Place one wrap on a smooth surface and top with two romaine lettuce leaves. Top with half the chicken, bacon, tomato and cheese, distributing evenly across the length of the wrap.

Gently roll one side of the wrap over the assembled ingredients and continue rolling until you reach the other side. Cut rolled wrap in half and secure each side with a toothpick. Repeat with second wrap.

Serve with a dill pickle and your favorite potato chips – or vegetable chips for a healthier choice.

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