Spring has arrived in San Diego. The weather is warm, our vegetable beds are loaded with freshly planted tomatoes, and we are just finishing a couple retainer walls that give us a few hundred more feet of planting space. Life is good. And to celebrate, we made this lovely (and simple) roast beef panini sandwich.
Roast beef Panini
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It’s that time of year in our local farmers’ markets. Our longer than average spring has given way to summer and with it has come one of the fruits that I only started eating when I moved to California - figs, glorious figs. There are some fruits whose appearance and tastes you can describe by comparing it to another. But a fig… Nothing tastes like a fig. It just is. Figs are popping up all over and once again, I am beginning to flirt with the idea of adding a tree to my garden. Until then though, I have kind friends who help satisfy my cravings by sharing from the bounty of their own gardens. This sandwich is the result of one such gift - a basket of black mission pigs.
While there are many ways to add figs to your diet, this is by far my favorite. The saltiness of the prosciutto, creaminess of the Cambazola (a soft ripened triple cream blue cheese) and the nuttiness of arugula – what at taste sensation. If ever a sandwich could be described as sensual, then this is it.
Figs Prosciutto Blue Cheese and Arugula Sandwich
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Ever heard of the four cheese sandwich? Typically this sandwich involves an abundance of cheese with little smidgen of veggies. A few weeks ago, we decided to turn that recipe upside down and make the four tomato caprese panini. Thanks to overshopping (yet again) at the annual Tomato Mania, our garden has quite a variety of this summer necessity. If only the variety was matched by abundance. Sigh! This year, we have been outdone by the garden pests who have made off with most of our yield. Poor Anders. In anticipation of this annual raiding, early in the season he stocked the pantry with peanut butter – the bait of choice for our Have a Heart trap. Months later, we are out of peanut butter and tomatoes. There are some very fat well fed squirrels and rabbits running around Poway right now and they owe it all to Anders. How they managed to get to the PB without springing the trap is beyond me. Ocassionally, (grudglying, we suspect), they left us a few, from which we were able to have a few tomato meals – like this sandwich.
Four Tomato Caprese Panini With Buffalo Mozzarella
You can use any combination of tomatoes you wish. We used: white oxheart, brandy boy, Mr. Stripey and XXX. It was delish, so much so that after eating his mammoth sandwich, Anders begged for another. After eating his second sandwich, he was nearly comatose on the sofa. Sweet reward for me… that and hearing him declare, “this is hands down the best panini I’ve ever tasted.”
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We love caprese salads so much we had Phil’s BBQ change their menu and serve it at our wedding (They did a great job too). So, it should come as no surprise that we had to try and turn the art of the caprese into a sandwich. A panini sandwich to be exact. It has all the classic ingredients: Mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For the bread we went with our own homemade pesto-sourdough bread, but any regular sourdough will do just fine.
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Caprese Panini Sandwich
We just got married, and we were very saddened by the Icelandic cloud of ash that kept several of our Danish friends from attending our wedding. But everything can be a blessing in disguise. We didn’t tell our caterer, Phil’s BBQ, so we ended up with extra beef ribs in the freezer. While we miss our friends, at least we have ribs. And as the old saying goes, “if life gives you ribs, make rib sandwiches.” And so here we are, summer just started, and this wonderful panini (thank you Scott and Choo for that wonderful machine!!) is our first and most basic beef rib sandwich. Yum.
Phil's BBQ Beef Rib Panini
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We recently discovered a great food store in Little Italy in San Diego. It should be noted that Little Italy is very aptly named, since it’s basically just one street. You blink, you miss it. If you are of Italian descent, please move to San Diego so we can add a couple more streets. In Little Italy, we found Assenti’s Pasta, a wonderful little delicatessen shop where you can get fresh pasta of all shapes and forms. Arriving there at 5:59pm we were simply happy traffic had not delayed us more, and positively exuberant that Assenti let us in. Yes, we had a rushed 5 minute shopping spree, but it was great. Here we found muffaletta and tuscan bean spread as well as fresh pasta (which weren’t really for sandwiches, although Anders tried and failed).
This sandwich is our first using the muffaletta, is was delicious. It fell a bit apart due to the iceberg lettuce, which became very slippery with the oil from the muffaletta and the melted cheese. We had to add toothpicks to hold it all together long enough to take pictures.
Turkey Sandwich with Lettuce, Fennel Seeds, Muffaletta, White Bean Tuscan Paste, Paprika, Fresh Sweet Basil Leaves and Creamy Cheese
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Excited about the prospect of making paninis, and after holding out for a few weeks, we finally decided to get a panini press (well, Anders decided ). So down to the nearest Target and what do they have? Shelves up and down stacked with George Foreman grills. Now I didn’t grow up in the US so I don’t really know George Foreman, but he is certainly a very prolific grill maker. So, without a choice, we got a George Foreman grill which we put up next to Alessi wine bottle opener and the Georg Jensen beer bottle opener. After all, if you can’t name your kitchen equipment by name, how will you tell them apart?
Well, the grill is clearly no panini press. The bread barely got any of those distinctive grill stripes, despite a very long grilling session. It did taste great however, so we decided to add it to our growing sandwich collection anyway. You can’t argue with good food. However, we also decided it’s a borderline panini, hence the name.
The 'Not a Panini' Ham and Cheese Panini Sandwich with Roasted Garlic, Onion, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, Blue Stilton and Mozzarella
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