Sandwiches rule. It's no wonder why it was Joey's favorite food on Friends ("how you doin'?"). We, as viewers, learned that in the trivia battle they had with each other. My favorite part of that game was when Ross tested the group to see who knew Rachel's real favorite movie, as opposed to the one she pretended was her favorite. Answer: real was "Weekend at Bernie's", but she pretended it was "Dangerous Liasons"😂😂.
For a casual lunch, it's so cute and fresh to serve a selection of sandwiches. These paninis grill so beautifully, and take three minutes to make. When sliced diagonal into triangles, everyone's fave sandwich shape (it's like how the blue and green M&M's just taste better), they present so nicely. Rustic and delicious. My ridged griddle type sandwich press has a weighted lid. This is what gives the paninis those nice, slightly charred lines. The lid presses down, indenting the bread. Brushing the pan with olive oil gives the bread a nice golden brown, crispy crunch. I really enjoy making these grilled sandwiches. It's the Saturday night staple in our home, when I myself am fried, and need to make something fast and easy, that requires almost zero brain usage. We've all been there.
These versions are classic flavors that compliment each other beautifully. One is tomato sauce with cheddar, the second is a pesto mozzarella. If you can, use two different breads, perhaps a sourdough and a whole wheat. If you only have one type, that's cool too. It just makes for a nice presentation to have two. Either way. Both of these would serve fantastically well with my favorite tomato basil soup recipe, from the Barefoot Contessa. See previous food posts😍🍅. Wonderful Italian flavors all around. Make the soup in advance, while its heating just make the paninis so your eaters can dunk, like my daughter loves to do. The recipe is like a non recipe.
Spread a layer of a thicker type of tomato sauce (so it won't leak) on one slice, and one or two cheddar slices on the other. Combine. Grill on an oiled, heated pan with the weighted lid on top for a couple minutes on each side. Grill lines should be brown, bread crispy , cheese melted. Flip with a spatula. Cut after the sandwich has at least one minute for the cheese to set. A serrated knife cuts this best, that's the knife with ridges.
Spread a layer of store bought pesto on one slice, and one or two mozzarella slices on the other. Repeat grilling process, making sure to re oil the pan if it dried up. What's terrific here is that you can add any grilled vegetables to your panini. Pre cook the thinly sliced veggies, or even a portobello mushroom cap, and just stick in between before grilling. Peppers, onions, zucchini. It all works. Grilled vegetable sandwiches look beautiful and are great in the summer. Fresh, uncooked tomato slices will work too. Don't precook those, they'll be mush.
To serve, just put nicely on a rustic looking serving platter and have all your guests grab the halves. This is a fun, hands on food, so don't worry how to plate it so much. Sandwiches are for chill time. Oh, and if one burns, it'll probably still be good, but with slices of cheese and a loaf of bread on hand, you can quickly whip up more. No worries. Who says grilling has to be just for carnivores?? Pesto Besto.
🍅, Lady Blaga