- Honey Walnut-Crusted Aged Cheddar Panini Recipe -
- From “The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook” -
A few of us are still in the throes of last-minute gift buying, and it’s for you that I have this recommendation–which, incidentally, began with a last minute gift that someone bought me. Last year I received a panini press from a dear friend who had no idea what to get me, and indeed, I had no idea what to do with the panini press. I’m not a sandwich person. I’m not a superfluous appliance person. I was moderately intrigued by the idea of a panini press, though I never made anything with it besides a peanut butter and jelly panini. So after a week or two it, it sat in my closet collecting dust.
I was intrigued when Kathy, one of my blogging comrades and online bloggyfriends, offered me a review copy of her new book. Given that I had this grill-clamp thing taking up much-needed closet space, I figured I should give it a try. Years ago I worked in a coffee shop where paninis were on the menu and I used to cook up all sorts of goodies in the press there, my favorite being Havarti and prosciutto sandwiched between a horizontally-sliced croissant and pressed until the cheese, butter, and hammy fat coalesced into the most delicious, most unhealthy quasi-sandwich I’d ever eaten. But that was easy. Working in a cafe, you had all sorts of ridiculously decadent ingredients handy, it is was near-impossible to screw up a dish that includes three different kinds of fat. How can one enjoy a panini press with only household ingredients?
Turns out a panini press has many uses in a regular household kitchen, and Kathy has created a generous number of recipes that show you exactly what to do with that seeming-unitasker greedily eating space on your countertop. Sure there are lots of sandwich recipes in here — Green Chili Steak Melt, Marinated Mozzarella Panini with Artichokes and Roasted Red Peppers, Turkey Apple Panini with Fig and Gruyére – but you can also grill peaches, spatchcock a game hen, and prepare perfectly cooked grilled salmon on your little press. There are even breakfast and dessert recipes here: Sunflower Butter, Banana, and Honey Sliders; Grilled French Toast; Chorizo and Potato Grilled Hand Pies; Nutella S’Mores. Um, yes please.
The first chapter is dedicated to your initial panini press education, teaching readers that there’s a little more to the grill than they might have first suspected. Or example, should you use sliced or shredded cheese when making a panini? What’s the easiest way to clean your press? What are the differences between basic grills and more advanced models? Kathy explains all of this (and much more) clearly and concisely.
The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook is a great guide for anyone who wants to eat well, but eat quickly. Truly, that’s the whole point of the press to begin with, isn’t it? Perhaps it has gourmet roots, but here in the busy U. S. of A., the panini grill is a convenient appliance, a way for busy moms, harried professionals, and college students to layer together a quality dinner in less than ten minutes. Given the ease of Kathy’s recipes, this book is a boon for folks looking to put together healthy meals with little work and very few dishes. And really, isn’t that something we all want?
Below you’ll find a recipe for Kathy’s Honey Walnut-Crusted Aged Cheddar Panini, a wonderful concoction of stout cheddar and sweet honey. The two flavors sway and dip to an unheard tune, rhapsodizing in a whirl of tender cheese and crunchy walnuts, striking a balance of luxurious richness without stepping into overly fatty territory. I made this dish once on its own, and another time with tart, thinly sliced Granny Smith apples. Both version sang as my supper. Kids and adults will enjoy this recipe, much like they will enjoy the entire book.
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 8 slices rustic white bread, sliced from a dense bakery loaf
- 8 ounces aged sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
- Heat the panini press to medium-high heat.
- In a small bowl, mix the chopped walnuts, butter, and honey until it’s well combined.
- For each sandwich: Spread a layer of honey-walnut butter on two slices of bread. Flip over one slice of bread and top the other side with cheese. Close the sandwich with the other slice of bread, buttered side up.
- Grill two panini at a time, with the lid closed, until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted, 4 to 5 minutes.