Mozzarella, Arugula, and Sun-Dried Tomato Panini
A panini is really just a flattened-out version of a grilled sandwich, in the spirit of grilled cheese, but it is traditionally cooked on the top and the bottom at the same time on a grill. Panini makers or presses are inexpensive and worth the money if you make panini a lot. The presses cook the panini quickly, they are versatile (you can cook a lot of different things in them — I sometimes use them to grill tofu slices), and they are also very easy to clean.
However, you don’t need a panini press to make a panini. Assemble your sandwich, lightly brush it with oil, and put it in a hot nonstick skillet. Put a sheet of aluminum foil over the sandwich and put a heavy pan on top (cast iron works well) to press it down while it is cooking. When the bottom side is golden brown, remove the top pan, flip the sandwich, and repeat on the other side. If you have a grill pan, use that to get the characteristic panini grill marks.
You can also make panini on the barbecue with a brick wrapped in aluminum foil. Incidentally, bricks are also good for grilling meat on its own, in the style of dishes like “chicken under a brick.”
– 8 slices whole grain bread
– ¼ cup olive oil
– 8 thin slices mozzarella cheese
– 2 cups arugula
– 16 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for about 10 minutes and cut into thin strips
– ½ cup chopped fresh basil
– ½ tsp garlic powder
– Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the panini maker or heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
2. Brush one side of one piece of bread with olive oil. Top with one slice of cheese, one-quarter of the arugula, one-quarter of the sun-dried tomato strips, one-quarter of the basil, and a sprinkle of garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Top with a second slice of cheese and a second slice of bread. Brush the top of the bread with olive oil and put the sandwich between the plates of the panini maker or onto the skillet and cover with a piece of foil and a second heavy skillet.
3. When the light on the panini maker goes on, remove the sandwich and repeat to make four sandwiches. If you aren’t using a panini maker, use a spatula to keep an eye on the underside of the sandwich. When it is golden brown, flip and cook the other side, then remove the sandwich and repeat. The time this takes will vary according to the heat of your skillet, so watch the panini carefully to avoid burning.
This is an excerpt from The Skinnygirl Dish by Bethenny Frankel, available on Amazon.com.