The grilled cheese sandwich is one of those childhood favorites, which you never really grow out of it seems. However, as you age your palate grows more educated, meaning that you can do better than pasteurized processed American cheese slices on white bread. You are ready for a more grown-up variation on grilled cheese and this grilled Panini recipe is an oh-so-sophisticated twist on this classic comfort food.
Instead of relying on a Panini grill, this recipe takes this sandwich outdoors so you can dine al fresco if you choose. With spinach, tomato, and Gruyere cheese on whole-wheat ciabatta, this is a grilled cheese sandwich, which is certain to please grownups; and kids will like them too (though you may want to replace the gruyere with cheddar cheese for the younger set). Grilled Panini sandwiches are certain to become a hit with your whole family.
You will see by reading the recipe just how easy it is. A lot of barbeque recipes are not only easy to make but they are fun too. There is something very primal and enjoyable about cooking over fire, and it is not just the guys who find it to be a fun cooking method. Instead of cooking vegetables and then adding them to a dish, as is the case with many of our other barbequed vegetable recipes, these sandwiches are assembled and then grilled as they are, so the smoke and heat permeate through the sandwiches, flavoring everything inside and lending a distinctive aroma and flavor to these tasty Italian snacks.
Spinach and tomato go on to the bottom of each Panini slice, followed by the cheese. Close the Paninis and press them together well because you do not want them to fall apart on the grill. The key to making this recipe successful is not having the grill too hot, so let it cool down a bit if it is and leave the lid open while these are cooking. Paninis do not need to be over high flames, but they will do well over a medium grill and the results will be so tempting and delicious. Add some aioli or mayonnaise to the finished Panini sandwiches or have some on the side of your plate for dipping and you will find these to be really nice.
These are ideal for a vegetarian because they do not have any meat or fish inside. The spinach makes a nice change from lettuce and it is also used because spinach works in a Panini on the grill while lettuce would not. If you prefer to use lettuce, just add it to the Panini when the cheese is melted and the Paninis are ready to serve. Pop it in there on top of the warm ingredients and the sandwiches will be fine. These are so good served for lunch or as a snack. Serve your Panini just as it is or have some chips or fries on the side. Coleslaw on the side would also work.
- 4 whole wheat ciabatta rolls, sliced lengthwise into thirds
- 1 cup raw spinach, washed and drained
- 1 large or 2 small tomatoes, sliced thinly
- ¾ cup grated or very thinly sliced Gruyere or sharp cheddar cheese
- Mayonnaise or aioli, if desired
- While the grill is heating, slice four ciabatta rolls lengthwise into thirds. You should be left with thin slices, which will grill evenly. Add a thin layer of spinach and tomato to the first slice, followed by a thin layer of the grated cheese. Top with the second slice and repeat, finally topping with the third slice. Press the sandwiches down a little before adding them to the grill.
- Your grilling technique matters a lot here. What you want to do is to add the Panini to the low heat part of your grill once it is good and hot, then close the lid and wait one minute. After a minute, turn the sandwiches using a spatula and press them down again using the spatula before reclosing the lid. Open the lid after one more minute and press the sandwiches again for about 10 seconds each before removing from the grill. If desired, add mayonnaise or aioli before serving. These grilled Panini sandwiches make a great lunch or even breakfast, if you are so inclined.
Not only are these tasty and satisfying but they are also really crispy and the grill marks makes them irresistible. It is true that our grilled Panini sandwiches fresh from the barbeque will make a nice change from the standard grilled cheese sandwich, and is a fun lunch the kids will love. Grownups also love the classic Italian appeal of this dish, and whether you enjoy Panini as a snack or full meal, you are going to have a full, happy belly after enjoying this recipe. Not having a Panini press does not have to mean no Panini sandwiches, so fire up that grill and make these. You will certainly love the results.
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