One Thoughtful Panini…

I’ve eaten a lot of paninis, so many that I like to consider myself a panini connoisseur.  On my blog, I share the ones that stand out- this one stood out.  I went to Ballaro in New York on an early Sunday afternoon, unaware that they were only serving their brunch menu and not their regular menu, which included a long list of paninis.  Fortunately for me, my waitress and I devised a plan where we could create an amazing panini despite their limited Sunday ingredients.

Lo and behold this thoughtfully created panini, a perfect example of why two minds are better than one:

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This panini consisted of the basic Italian ingredients: Parmesan, arugula, olive oil, and Bresaola.  My waitress, who was from Italy, explained to me how they make Bresaola in her country.  It is an air dried beef, that has been aged for two to three months until it becomes this rich purple color (see next picture).

Much to my surprise, this panini was thoughtfully created in yet one more way:

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Mid bite, I noticed that the Bresaola had been grilled on the panini separately before grilled with the sandwich (notice the grill marks).  Genius!

PANINI TIP: Depending on the type of ingredients, grill the meats and veggies in your sandwich separately before you grill them all together.

 

Enjoy,

Sani

Peppers, Stuffed Peppers

Peppers, tomatoes, squash, zucchinis; all things that can be stuffed with greatness and made to perfection on the panini.  Like many of my recipes, this one is extremely versatile.  Stuffed peppers I thought originated in Spain, ‘pimientos rellenos’, however I’ve learned that many countries and cultures have their own variation of the stuffed pepper.

India- Bharwan Mirch

Arabic- Dolma (kousa, sometimes called mahshi is stuffed squash– and it’s amazing!!)

Mexico- Chille Relleno

Greece- Yemista

Egypt- Mashi Phil-Phil

Romania- Ardei Umpluti

USA- Stuffed Pepper

 

My recipe for the panini version of a stuffed pepper:

Ingredients:

Yellow, Green, Or Red Bell Pepper

Breadcrumbs

Olive Oil

Egg (optional*)

Chopped Onion

Chopped Zucchini

Salt

Pork Sausage (optional*)

Chopped Mushrooms

 

Assembling:

1. Wash the pepper and cut off the stem end of the pepper (the ‘hat’) to save for later

2. Clean and remove the seeds

3. Rub olive oil and salt on the outside of the pepper

4. In a bowl combine the desired ingredients

5. Fill the pepper and grill on the panini

6. Have something at the bottom of the panini to catch the juices that will ooze out to pour over the pepper when it’s finished

7. Grill on the panini for 8 minutes

8. When finished, take off and pour the sauce over it

9. For presentation purposes, but the hat back on top

 

*Breadcrumbs and eggs are added to thicken the stuffing

*If you are using meat, cook the meat on the panini before mixing with the other ingredients

 

Raid your fridge and see what you can incorporate into your stuffing with these suggestions:

-Mexican: combine cheese, tomatoes, chorizo, bread crumbs and top it with salsa and sour cream; serve on a bed of shredded lettuce

-Meat Lovers: combine pork sausage, chorizo, mushrooms, mix in your favorite cheese

-Cheesy: combine ricotta, marscapone, feta cheese and breadcrumbs

-Veggie: combine chopped/shredded zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, spanish onions, and garbanzo beans

-Asian: Water chestnuts, bok choy, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, tofu, and chopped peanuts (or meat of your choice)

 

Don’t you just love versatility :)

 

Enjoy,

Sani

 

 

Tempeh Time

Tempeh.  Many run from this word, as it is unknown to most.  However, I’ve slowly started to notice it’s becoming more and more ‘trendy’.  I started to explore this tempeh, what makes it both intimidating and attractive?  Fermented whole soybeans with mold, similar to tofu.  Tempeh is a meat substitute, it’s firm, dry and chewy and the best part about it is that you can get it smoked- tastes like bacon!!  Which is why when I first tried tempeh, it was smoked and I found it delicious.  At Candle Cafe, a vegan restaurant in New York, their menu featured many variations of tempeh.  I got a smoked temeph sandwich with roasted red pepper, roasted zucchini, arugula, with a tomato spread on whole grain bread.

Sani Panini Tempeh

Ways we can use temeph in panini form: replace your grilled meat with grilled temeph, try it smoked, grill it with some veggies on the panini with a soy sauce, and naturally add it into your next panini :).

*Did you notice the great panini grill marks on the tempeh?

Enjoy,

Sani

Ratatouille

One of my favorite movies is Ratatouille, not just because I’m a foodie, because it’s just the greatest.  The title was clever, the plot was cute, and the location was perfect.  The ambiance and theme made me absolutely fall in love with this movie.  This also sparked my interest in Ratatouille…  What exactly is Ratatouille and how can this be made in a panini?

Ratatouille, which I assumed was French, actually originated from Occitania.  Occitania is a historical region in southern Europe which includes Monaco, parts of Spain and Italy, and the southern half of France.  This dish is a small representation of each these regions.  Usually, this dish is prepared by cooking each vegetable by itself and then layering it.  Over time, this dish has adapted to many different versions and methods of making.  The most modern approach to making ratatouille is by grilling it, which is how this relates to Sani Panini…

Ingredients:

Small Eggplant

Zucchini

Spanish Onion

Tomatoes

Garlic

Peppers (your preference of red or green bell peppers)

Olive Oil

Salt

Basil

Assembling (salad or layers):

1. Peel the eggplant

2. Cut the eggplant and zucchini into thin circles, relatively the same size

3. Drizzle olive oil and salt over the eggplant and zuchinni

4. Grill on the panini for 2 minutes

5. While they are grilling, start cutting the peppers and onions in slices and then cut in half.  So that the length of the peppers and onions are similar to the diameter of the zucchini and eggplant.

6. In a bowl, mash the garlic and add peppers, onions, olive oil and salt

7. Take the eggplant and zucchini off of the panini and add the peppers and onions for 2 minutes

8. Cut the tomatoes into slices (doesn’t matter if you are using cherry tomatoes or regular tomatoes)

9.  Take the peppers and onions off and cook the tomatoes for 1 minute

10. You can add all the ingredients to the panini now, just to warm them up, but leave the panini open

11. Chop some basil

12. Take all ingredients off of the panini and either mix together in a bowl with the basil OR you can layer them on a plate

*If you are making this into a salad, you can cut the veggies into thick cubes rather than slices.  I also like adding a touch of balsamic, just a little!!

**This makes great for leftovers!  You can add this into your eggs in the morning, or fry an egg and place on top.  You can also eat the salad cold, room temp, or hot.  While layering the veggies is best hot!

Enjoy,

Sani

New Tricks for an Old Dog

Oh, the joys of going out to eat!  I enjoy eating out because it’s a chance to learn something new. Mom and pop joints are my favorite places to learn new techniques.  At Soup Spoon Café (located near the capital of Michigan), I got a bonus lesson on, none other than… the panini!!  This does not happen often- trust me!  In a prior post, I mentioned a panini place that had panini’s on french bread. However, it didn’t have the warm, grilled bread component that makes up a great panini.  Soup Spoon transformed their french bread to a “panini appropriate” sandwich.  How?? They flipped the bread inside out, genius.

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In this picture you can see how the inside of the french bread is now the outer layer, and what is usually considered the outer part of the bread- is now on the inside.

This sandwich consisted of slow roasted pork loin, caramelized onions, pickles and melted Gruyére cheese with their bistro sauce.

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Let me know if you try out this new trick!

 

Enjoy,

Sani

Classic Tuna Melt

What better way to enjoy the classic sandwiches than on a panini maker?  If you’re not a tuna person, I get it- I’ve seen the smell of tuna turn people away from trying it. However, I   know of a little trick that masks its’ strong flavor and encourage more people to try it!!  One of my favorite ways to eat tuna is with a little cajun mayo mixed in, on whole wheat toast, and with some Pepper Jack Cheese, and then obviously grilled in the panini maker.  Pepper Jack cheese is the greatest way to minimize the strong tuna taste and gives the sandwich some great flavor.

Ingredients:

2 slices of Whole Wheat bread

1 can of Tuna (packed in water is healthier than packed in oil)

1 slice of Pepper Jack cheese

Mayo (or Cajun Mayo)

Assembling:

1. Mix tuna and mayonnaise together with a fork to break down the big chunks of tuna (sometimes I add in a little crushed red pepper for some extra spice)

2. Add it on to one slice of bread

3. Top it with one slice of pepper jack cheese

4. Add the second piece of bread

5. Grill on panini for 3 minutes

Enjoy,

Sani

Grilled Pears

Grilled Pears with a Balsamic and Honey glaze topped with Goat Cheese.  They are phenomenal!!