Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Quick Eats: Caprese Panini Style Sandwiches

Did you know that it's National Grilled Cheese Day today?  These social media food holidays can be goofy, but when I hear about them it really gets my inspiration going.  After seeing some posts earlier today, I decided we need to observe this fun day with sammies for dinner.  Because cheese & bread are awesome.  And why not celebrate?

But we couldn't have just regular 'ol grilled cheese.  We needed fancy grilled cheese.  I love to make things complicated. :)  So, I came up with a little take on one of my favorite restaurant orders: Caprese Sandwiches.  We had shredded mozzarella leftover from homemade pizzas a few days ago, cherry tomatoes in the fridge & even some basil from a plant I had picked up over the weekend (Trying to grow some indoors herbs this year, wish me luck!) so after a quick trip to the store for ciabatta rolls, we were set.  I decided to add some balsamic to the bread at the last minute & I'm really glad I did.  It adds a nice depth of flavor to the sandwich & I love balsamic on just about anything.  It's delicious.

We made the sandwiches really shine but cooking them up panini-style.  We don't have a panini press, so any time we feel like making them, I just use two of our cast-iron skillets & the heaviest canned good I can find from our pantry.  You heat up your largest pan, load it up with the sammies, place the second pan on top & then add your unopened can to the top of your second pan to press down the sandwich.  It's a really simple method & makes delicious, crispy edged, gooey on the inside sandwiches, minus one more thing to store in my already cramped kitchen.

These quick sandwiches would be a great lunch, but they make for an even better, incredibly quick, tasty dinner that's made in literally minutes.  I ate mine while finishing up my reading (Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling) for this week's book club & it made for the perfect reading companion.

(P.S. I've been attending The Paper Craft Pantry's book club hosted by Stephanie Hinrichs of Interlaced Goods & it's so good & so fun.  If you're in the Austin area, you should join!  All of the info can be found on Paper Craft Pantry's website.)

Caprese Sandwiches

(Serves 2)

Ciabatta Rolls (4, cut lengthwise)
Balsamic Vinegar
Mozzarella Cheese (2 cups shredded or one large ball fresh, sliced)
Tomatoes, diced (I used 3 or 4 cherry tomatoes per sandwich)
Fresh Basil (1 bunch, diced)

Utensils: 2 cast iron skillets or heavy pans, the largest canned good item from your pantry (35 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes work well, but anything big will be great)

Slice ciabatta rolls lengthwise, shred/slice cheese & dice tomatoes & basil if necessary.  Heat your largest skillet/pan over medium high heat while assembling the sandwiches.  Take each piece of ciabatta bread & liberally sprinkle the inside portions with balsamic vinegar.  Then, arrange about 1/4 cup of cheese on each 'bottom' piece of bread.  Evenly add in tomatoes & top with basil.  Add on another 1/4 cup or so of cheese & finish the sandwich with the 'top' piece of bread.

Carefully place the sandwiches in the largest skillet/pan.  You may need to cook these in batches, depending on how large your top skillet/pan is.  You need the top skillet to completely cover the sandwiches, so that they can press down the sandwich to melt the cheese & help create a panini effect.  Carefully, place your second skillet/pan directly on top of your sandwiches.  Place your unopened canned good from the pantry on top of the skillet/pan.  This will help press down the sandwich.

Cook over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes, then very carefully remove the canned good & top skillet, & flip the sandwich over.  Replace the top skillet/pan & canned good & cook for another 1-2 minutes.  The cheese should be melted completely & the outside of the rolls should be toasted.

Once the cheese has completely melted, carefully remove the canned good & top skillet.  Remove sandwiches from the pan, cut on the diagonal if you wish & serve!


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