Every once in a while I see a recipe and immediately feel the need to make it that very same day. This would be one of those recipes. With an absolutely beautiful September behind us, and what I’m hoping will be an even more beautiful October ahead, I couldn’t pass up a recipe that so perfectly matched this fall weather. It helps that there’s only about 5 ingredients and that from start to finish this only took about 20 minutes. Residency + a long commute + triathlons + general career/life crises have been taking up pretty much all my time, and blogging hasn’t been at the top of my list…but truth be told, I miss it!
You know this sandwich must be pretty great, considering it made me come out of blog hibernation. In fact, it really makes me want to go apple picking and drink cider. The combination might sound a bit odd, but the apple and apple butter is really a nice balance to the saltiness from the ham and cheese. Plus, I love adding sweetness to anything I can. So if you’re looking for a quick an easy dinner to enjoy with fall, look no further.
Apple, Ham and White Cheddar Panini
- 8 slices sourdough bread
- 3 T. butter, at room temperature
- 2 large apples, thinly sliced
- Sliced white cheddar cheese, about 4 ounces
- Thinly sliced maple ham, 6-8 ounces
- 1/2 cup apple butter
Heat a grill pan or case iron skillet to medium heat. Butter the outside of each sandwich liberally. On one piece of bread, layer apple slices, cheese and ham. On the other slice apply a thick layer of apple butter. Sandwich the pairs together so that the buttered sides are facing outwards.
Cook the sandwiches, turning once, until both sides are golden and the cheese is melted. Slice in half and serve immediately.
Source: Annie’s Eats
I first made this last year when my mom came to visit me in Toledo for pre-wedding preparation, and I remember her loving them so much that I wanted to make it again. Since John isn’t visiting with me this time (he has summer school), I thought I would try to eat some of the foods that normally he would turn his nose up at – this way I can get my fill, without having to torture him :-). While he’s never tried these sandwiches, he’s not a big eggplant fan, and it also seems that he normally prefers meals if there is some meat included. So these sandwiches seemed like a perfect lunch/dinner option for my solo visit home. However, after enjoying them so much – I might have to try to convert him.
This is a pretty simple recipe, and it becomes a lot simpler if you don’t worry about measuring everything exactly. The basic gist is to make a thick marinade with a 2:1 ratio of sun dried tomatos and basil, which becomes the base for the whole sandwich. You use this marinade to flavor the vegetables, and then you put some of the marinade on the sandwich itself. I chose to use sun dried tomatoes in oil, because I like to use the flavored olive oil in the recipe – it has a very strong flavor, which can be good or bad depending on your taste. If you prefer, dry packed sun dried tomatoes can also be used, but you will have to add a little bit more olive oil to the marinade. Whatever you use, know that the marinade is really what makes this sandwich.
Another great thing about this summery delight is the variety of summer vegetables it works with. I personally love roasted red peppers and eggplant, but I think zucchini, portobello mushrooms, yellow squash, or any other summer vegetables would be great. In addition, I used ciabatta bread here, but a french baguette would also be excellent. By chopping the roasted vegetables you could even serve this as an open faced appetizer – endless possibilities
Grilled Vegetable and Sun Dried Tomato Sandwiches
Make 4 sandwiches
- 1 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup loosely packed basil, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3-4 T. olive oil
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 3 red peppers, cleaned and sliced into 2 -3 inch slices
- 2 small eggplants, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 4 ciabatta rolls
- 6 oz goat cheese
- spinach leaves for topping (optional)
3. Heat the grill to medium-high, and begin by grilling the peppers – I put them directly on the grate, but you could also use a grill basket if you prefer. The peppers will take longer to cook than the eggplant, so cook them for about 5 minutes and then add the eggplant. Continue to grill all the vegetables for 8-10 additional minutes, flipping half way through.
4. While the vegetables are grilling, slice the ciabatta rolls in half lengthwise and warm on the grill until slightly crisped. Top each with a generous tablespoon of goat cheese, followed by a tablespoon of remaining sun dried tomato mixture. Feel free to put goat cheese on both sides of the bread (if you are a goat cheese lover like me).
5. Top each sandwich with 3-4 slices of eggplant and 2 slices of roasted red pepper. Finish with spinach, if desired.
Inspired by Giada’s Recipe from the Food Network