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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Prosciutto and Mozzarella Panini

With the 100-degree heatwave last week, I was running out of oven-, stove- and grill-free cooking methods.  I'm so glad I had my panini press to rescue my family from the salad-and-rotisserie chicken rut I was falling into! 

The inspiration for these flavorful panini came from my local farmers market.

It's usually the fresh fruits and vegetables that inspire me.

Last week, however, it was the fresh mozzarella and the bread from Clear Flour Bread that were the catalysts for this recipe.

  • "I've Got You Under My Skin"....Frank Sinatra
  • "Botch-A-Me"......Rosemary Clooney
  • "Pepino The Italian Mouse"......Lou Monte
  • "Mack The Knife"...Kevin Spacey
  • "Almost Like Being In Love"..Frank Sinatra
  • "Sway"......Michael Buble
  • "That's Amore"....Dean Martin
  • "World On A String"....Bobby Caldwell

  • Prosciutto And Mozzarella Panini
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • ciabatta, focaccia or other Italian bread, 8 slices or enough for 4 sandwiches
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella
  • 6 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 6 oz. jar of roasted red peppers, drained
  • freshly ground pepper

Gather your ingredients.

Notice the new olive oil in the picture?  My son brought it back for me from Italy last month.  He knows what his mama likes!

I got a little nervous when he wheeled his suitcase into the house and exclaimed "Oh!  I have some olive oil in here for you!" 

Flashbacks to a college trip to Cancun appeared before me, with visions of the bottle of Kahlua I thought I had safely ensconced within the folds of a Mexican blanket in my luggage.  I knew it was shattered before I even retrieved my suitcase from the luggage carousel, with the fragrant smell of coffee liqueur perfuming the air.

I'm glad this bottle of olive oil survived.

Now, back to our recipe.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, oregano and crushed garlic (I crush the garlic directly into the bowl before I whisk the ingredients together). 

This is where I would normally tell you to add salt and pepper to taste, but prosciutto is so salty I don't think you need any salt, despite the salt that you see in my ingredients picture.  I grabbed the salt by mistake.  Habit, you know. 

Just add a few grinds of fresh pepper.

Brush one side of each piece of bread with the vinaigrette.  This is the ciabatta that you see in this picture.  I am going to make 3 sandwiches with the ciabatta and one with the focaccia.

I wish I took a separate picture of the bread, you can sort of see it in the ingredients photo but in hindsight, it was so spectacular it deserved its own picture.

Heat up your panini press, if you have one; if not, you can use a skillet on your stove top.  If you use a skillet on your stove, just remember to push down on the panini with a spatula occasionally or place another skillet on top of them to squish them a bit.

Brush a little bit of butter onto the surface of the panini press.

While you are waiting for the panini press/or skillet to heat up, layer your sandwiches (vinaigrette side up)with slices of mozzarella........


..........and a few slices of the roasted red peppers.

Top with the remaining bread slices (vinaigrette side down).

Place the sandwiches into your panini press and shut the lid.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden and crispy.

If you are using a skillet, you will need to flip the sandwiches to cook both sides.  It will take about 3 or 4 minutes per side.

Remove from the panini press (or skillet) and serve immediately.

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