Another Wednesday, another sandwich! The Grill-Meister continues to kill it on Sandwich Wednesday; last week it was a vegetarian offering, a Pesto-Mozzarella Panini. The bright flavors of the pesto is perfectly balanced with the melty-creaminess of the fresh mozzarella and the righteous crunch of the toasted bread. Yum!
This panini is very quick to pull together. The Grill-Meister gets everything prepped and then turns it into a do-it-yourself project, which means I can have exactly the right amounts of goodies on my sandwich. My recommendation is to go heavy on the pesto, because in this panini, it’s not just a condiment, it shares the main ingredient spotlight with the mozzarella.
The Panini Makings
Four slices of sourdough bread
3/4 cup of pesto (the Grill-Meister makes a mint-basil pesto from one of our cookbooks, but you can use a good quality purchased one)
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, in thick slices
1 very ripe medium tomato, sliced
several slices of red onion, separated
salt (optional) and freshly cracked black pepper
Slather pesto on both slices of bread, then top one with slices of mozzarella, tomatoes and onions. Add a liberal amount of freshly cracked black pepper. You may also want a bit of salt, unless your pesto is already just right, salt-wise. Top with the other slice of bread and cook in a panini maker on medium high until the bread is toasted, about 5-7 minutes. You can also cook this sandwich on the stove like a grilled cheese, for about 4 minutes on each side.
Like it? You can find more Sandwich Wednesday recipes here.
I wonder what the Grill-Meister is going to make this week?
As I’ve said before, Sandwich Wednesday is a thinghere at Glover Gardens. The Grill-Meister breaks out the panini maker for the midweek supper and delivers deliciousness between two slices of grill-marked bread. Read more about it here.
A recent delight was what he calls the TBLT, grilled tuna steaks nestled in a panini with the traditional BLT ingredients plus red onion and a spicy condiment. Oh yes, this was a wonderful winter Wednesday!
Since we are empty-nesters now, this recipe is for two; you can multiply it if you have a larger crowd. It saves time and is fun if you let everyone assemble their own. The Grill-Meister does that and I always have exactly the right amount of each accoutrement on my panini.
Four slices of sourdough or your other favorite panini bread
Butter or olive oil
A spicy condiment – your choice!
Four slices of thick bacon, cooked the way you like (extra crispy for me!)
One medium tomato, sliced
Two more big leaves of romaine lettuce
Salt and pepper
Gather all ingredients and prepare to assemble them for the paninis.
Pat the spice mix all over the tuna steaks. Preheat a nonstick pan on high heat with 2 tsp olive oil, then add the tuna steaks and cook for about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside. (You could also grill the tuna steaks; just be sure not to overcook them.)
Preheat a panini maker to medium. Spread the four pieces of bread with butter on one side or brush with olive oil and turn over. Spread your condiment of choice on the inside of the bread, then layer one side with the onion, bacon slices (2 each) and tuna steaks and top with the second slice of bread. Put the sandwiches on the panini maker, close the lid and cook until the bread is nicely toasted, about 7-10 minutes.
When the sandwiches are toasty and warm, with beautiful grill marks, remove from the panini maker. Open them up and add the tomatoes, then salt and freshly ground pepper, and then the romaine. Replace the top piece of bread and serve.
Note:you can steer the flavor profile of your panini with the condiment – we used Pain Train Green Salsa (from our local farmer’s market) the last time the Grill-Meister produced this scrumptious sandwich, but you could substitute a spicy mustard, a pepper jelly, an herb mayonnaise or some other wonderful condiment. Or just go whole hog and use soft, spreadable Boursin cheese – yum!
More Panini Intel
For more about Sandwich Wednesday and the Grill-Meister’s perfect paninis, and methods check out:
One of my beloved nieces has a panini maker now (a gift from the Grill-Meister and me), and sent me this photo of a recent success. I suspect I’ll be posting her delectable panini achievements and recipes as time goes by.
(Especially if y’all encourage her! Isn’t this photo enticing?)
Sandwich Wednesday is a thing at Glover Gardens. The Grill-Meister is also a Sandwich King and takes over the kitchen on Wednesdays, surprising me with a variety of bread-borne main courses like paninis.
I love Wednesdays!
The latest press-perfect panini featured slices of leftover grilled ribeyes and fontina cheese. The Grill-Meister gathered these sturdy ingredients along with some baby arugula we had on hand and sliced some red onions. (We think red onions make almost all sandwiches better.) He pulled out a variety of condiments and set up a do-it-yourself assembly next to the sourdough bread so we could each have a customized sandwich made exactly to our own specifications.
As you can see, the condiment choices were bacon jam, remoulade, Dijon, horseradish cream, and more mustards: deli, creole and stone-ground. All great options, but I went immediately for the Dijon because of its classic combination with steak. The Grill-Meister decided to do Dijon on one side and horseradish cream on the other; horseradish and beef being another classic combo. I followed his lead, and let me tell you, Dear Readers, the Grill-Meister was right. The spicy Dijon and horseradish produce a dual but complementary bite that was balanced by the almost-sweet creaminess of the fontina cheese.
And hey, it’s a weeknight, so don’t go to a lot of trouble on the side dishes – paninis are great with simple sides like fruit, beans, potato salad or even just carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes.
The recipe below serves 2; just increase the amounts if you aren’t empty-nesters like us. Also, if you’re a vegetarian, don’t despair; this panini would rock with a grilled vegetable in place of the steak. You could use portobello mushrooms, eggplant or thick planks of zucchini.
4 large slices of sourdough bread
Dijon mustard and horseradish cream, or other tangy condiments of your choice – see above
6 oz. of sliced cooked steak, deli roast beef or pot roast
1 cup loosely packed arugula (we used baby arugula but grownup greens would be ok, too)
3-4 slices of red onion
4 oz. sliced fontina cheese or other medium-flavored, medium-hard cheese (Gouda or Edam would be a good substitute)
Softened butter to spread on the bread
If you have a panini press, set it to heat up to medium high. Spread the condiments of your choice on the bread slices, then build the panini on one piece of bread, starting with the beef, then adding the onion, arugula and the cheese. Put the second bread slice atop the cheese, then spread a light layer of butter on the top slice. When you are ready to press the paninis, turn them over and place the buttered side down on the bottom plate of the panini press, then spread butter on the top piece of bread and close the press. Push down the top slightly to compress the sandwich and cook for about 7 minutes, or until the bread is lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Remove from the panini press and serve.
If you don’t have a panini press, you should get one! But actually, you can simply heat a skillet to medium high and follow the same process, using a spatula to press down the sandwich and turning to cook the second side after the first is browned.
Note: The panini party with the leftovers is why we always, always, always grill more steak than we can eat, but this sandwich would be just as good with roast beef – either the sliced kind from the deli, or the for-real kind if you had an old-fashioned roast for Sunday dinner.
Glover Gardens is non-commercial, but we do occasionally recommend products, just our opinion about stuff that works or is good. That’s the case with this panini press.
So over the last three weeks I had a long trip for work to Paris and then right away, a shorter trip for relaxation to Colorado (I know, I know, you’re not crying for me). After arriving home in Southeast Texas in the wee hours last night and working all day today, I found myself home alone for dinner tonight with no “on purpose” food in the refrigerator. That is, no food that was purchased with a menu or recipe in mind; all the Grill-Meister and I have in the icebox is a plethora of condiments and some too-old leftovers, and he’s not here tonight to justify my ordering Chinese.
What to do? What to do?
Comfort food to the rescue: a Scrambled Egg Sandwich.
I give thanks to my Dad for teaching me the joys of this humble little culinary bundle of joy. I made it a little differently than he did when I was growing up: his version with “Sandwich Spread” and cheddar on white bread evolved into mine with jalapeño jack and fresh baby spinach on wheat, but it’s still a wonderful go-to comfort food item.
There’s really no recipe for this: simply scramble a couple of eggs the way you like them (don’t forget the salt and pepper), toast a couple of pieces of bread, and assemble by resting the eggs atop a bed of baby spinach or perhaps some thinly sliced tomatoes on the bottom piece of toast, adding a slice of your favorite cheese and topping with the second piece of toast. Voila, a lovely dinner for one, reminiscent of your childhood. Or mine, at least.
I’m curious – what is YOUR easy comfort food when you’re home alone?
The Grill-Meister owned a German deli here in our little suburb of Houston for a while, years before we met. The relics of that adventure are “I would never want to own a restaurant again” and this marvelous sandwich, the U-Boat. It’s a German-ish variation of an Italian sub sandwich.
The U-Boat is party food. Big bites for people with big appetites. Perfect for big games or big parties or just a bunch of hungry teenagers.
I convinced the Grill-Meister to revisit the U-Boat recently for a Super Bowl party we were attending, and documented his every move as he made it. Here is the recipe, just for you.
The U-Boat Sub
Ingredients (serves 4 as a main course, 8-12 as an appetizer)
Large loaf of soft Italian or French bread (not a baguette), sliced in half longways
7 oz. thinly sliced Black Forest ham
5 oz. thinly sliced garlic (German) bologna
2 oz. thinly sliced hard salami
6-8 slices each of provolone, American and Swiss cheese
2 large, ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded or sliced in ribbons
Your favorite Italian dressing, about 1/4 cup or enough to spread across the top of the French bread
Freshly ground pepper
Large wooden picks (optional)
Gather all ingredients and place the bread on a cutting board. Starting with the ham, add a layer of meat, then alternate with a layer of cheese, overlapping the slices in each layer. Then scatter a layer of red onions, followed by the tomatoes. Add a liberal amount of freshly ground pepper, then the lettuce. Sprinkle a generous amount of the Italian dressing on the second half of the bread, then position it atop the sandwich. If you’re serving the U-Boat as an appetizer, use the picks to secure it in sections, about 1 1/2 inches apart. If it is a main course, cut the U-Boat in quarters.
Where did the name U-Boat come from? The Original Italian U-Boat was a successful submarine sandwich restaurant in Chicago that swelled from a single location in 1975 to 32 stores in its heyday, only to file for bankruptcy and close during the recession in 1983. Chicagoans remember it fondly, according to this article. There isn’t a recipe for their U-Boat Sub online, although it may exist in someone’s attic. The Grill-Meister’s U-Boat is similar to recipes for an Italian Sub, although it has a German spin with the Black Forest ham and garlic bologna.
We love to make paninis when we visit Little House in the Rockies in Central Colorado. There’s something about eating a hearty sandwich by the fire while looking out the window at a snowy forest – it’s comforting food in an even more comforting setting.
The latest is a throw-together panini that turned out great! Canadian bacon, provolone, mushrooms and fresh basil on ciabatta buns rocks! Here are some loose instructions; this is a recipe that is wonderful in its inexactness. If you don’t have a panini press (or two), just make this sandwich like a grilled cheese, turning it to cook each side.
Canadian Bacon, Provolone and Mushroom Panini (Makes 6)
6 ciabatta buns
12 Canadian bacon slices
6 slices provolone cheese
2/3 cup of sliced mushrooms
approximately 1/4 cup Italian dressing
1/2 bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped or torn
freshly ground pepper
small amount of olive oil in a bowl (to brush on the buns)
Dijon mustard and dill pickles (optional, for serving)
Toss the mushrooms in a small bowl with just enough Italian dressing to coat them. Open the ciabatta buns and lay them out on a cutting board, then arrange mushrooms on the bottom half of each bun. Top with a generous amount of the torn basil, then with freshly ground pepper. Next, add the provolone, one slice for each sandwich, folding the slices so that they don’t hang over the sides of the buns. Follow with two slices of Canadian bacon for each sandwich, then add the bun tops. Turn the paninis over and brush lightly with olive oil on the bottom.
Heat the panini press to medium and add the sandwiches, olive oil side down, then brush the tops with more olive oil. Close the press carefully, press down, and cook until the inside of the paninis are done and the ciabatta buns are nicely toasted. Serve with Dijon mustard or other condiments, as desired.
Note: these panini presses are Sunbeam, and while they’re fine for a little cabin in the Rockies, we prefer the one we have at home. It gets a workout every Wednesday when the Grill-Meister makes dinner, AKA Sandwich Wednesday. Read all about it in the posts below, which also provide a couple of recipes and panini cookbook recommendations.
I first tasted Chipotle Chicken Salad on a multi-family road trip to the Rio Frio area of West Texas. It was a marvelous concoction by my friend Theresa on her day to make lunch for the crowd. I never got her recipe, and she is cooking with the angels now. I miss her every day. But I devised my own recipe based on that taste memory, and it’s pretty darn good. It’s also very easy, and quick. I made it recently as an appetizer for a football-watching party and aw, shucks, there was abundant praise. This recipe is as foodie-worthy as it is appropriate for a tailgate party. Hmmm, there’s a big game coming up…
Chipotle Chicken Salad
3 cups cooked chicken, white and dark meat, skin off, roughly chopped (one regular-sized rotisserie chicken should yield about 3 cups when deboned)
1/2 cup diced onion (red, white or yellow based on your preference or mood)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 cup jalapeño jack or jalapeño cheddar cheese
1 minced chipotle chile and 1 1/2 tbsp. of the adobo sauce (from a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 can of mild green chiles (4 oz.)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ancho chile pepper (ground)
bread, rolls or crackers for serving, or you can put it on a bed of mixed greens
pepper jelly spread (optional), if you make little slider sandwiches
chopped cilantro for garnishing
Combine the chicken, onion, cilantro and cheese in a medium bowl and toss. In a small bowl, mix the chipotle and adobo sauce, yogurt, mayonnaise, green chiles, salt and ancho chile powder, then pour over the chicken combination. Stir well to mix, taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary. You can also add more mayo or yogurt if the mixture is too dry.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with crackers, slider rolls or on a bed of mixed greens. Pepper jelly is a great condiment; I like the Inferno Sauce from Just Pure Flavors, a regular at our local farmers’ market.
About the Ingredients
I use a rotisserie chicken for this recipe, both the white and dark meat, which provides a broader range of taste and texture than just using chicken breast.
I go back and forth between using red, white or yellow onions – they are all good for their own reasons. Red onions are apropos in Southwest dishes, and pretty. Yellow onions are sweet and mellow. White onions are crunchy, sharper and more pungent. It’s all dependent upon your onion mood.
The Greek yogurt really gives the chicken salad a tart and tangy taste, while the mayo provides a sweet creaminess. I like using them together for the balance. You can use nonfat yogurt and light mayonnaise without impacting the taste, in my humble opinion.
If you have never used chipotle chies, it’s easy. Just pop open the can and use the amount you need, saving the rest for later. For this recipe, fish out a whole chipotle pepper, then mush your measuring spoon in the adobo sauce to get the 1 1/2 tbsp. you need.
I like McCormick’s Ancho Chile Pepper for the dried spice-it-up kick. If you can’t find it, cayenne will do, but it won’t be as multidimensional, taste-wise.
As the “delivery device” for serving the Chipotle Chicken Salad, I used King’s Hawaiian Rolls this time, both jalapeño and regular-flavored, and of course the jalapeño ones went first – bring on the spice! The slider-sized sandwiches are just right for a hearty party like the football-watching event we attended.
Wheat Thins or water crackers are also a great delivery device, more appropriate for snacking or an appetizer for a cocktail party.