Ahhh… the power of suggestion. It’s a force that is strong with me. In fact, I’m an advertiser’s dream. I’ll actually stand in the grocery store trying to remember the brand name of the product whose ad I liked so much. And sometimes it’s not (just) because they’ve subliminally planted the suggestion in my brain, but because I’m actively planning to reward good advertising with my business. I mean really, we are constantly being bombarded with such truly awful advertising that when an ad makes me smile I want to reach out and thank its creators in the only way I know how – by purchasing their product. But I digress.
The other day I was walking down the bread aisle (a dangerous place for me to be) when I spotted ready-made panini bread. And I remembered our very recent visit with some friends in North Wales, whose fabulous mum made us panini for lunch before we hit the road to drive home. At the time I thought how much I love panini and wondered why I’d banished our grill to the back of the gadget graveyard cupboard. What on earth had I been thinking? Surrendering to the force, I grabbed a pack of panini bread and dropped it into the shopping cart.
Back at home, I again wondered what on earth I’d been thinking. I had bought the bread but nothing to put inside it! By now I was desperate to get that grill going, so I raided the fridge and, luckily, came up trumps. Bell peppers, feta cheese, olives… yes, you see where I’m going with this. I also had a bit of shredded mozzarella left, which would make a nice ‘glue’ to hold it all together. And that’s it. With panini, there’s no need to overdo it. Decide on a theme and keep it simple. My Greek theme was predictable enough – I always have bell peppers, feta and olives lying around – so now I’m wondering how I can mix things up a bit. Because now that my grill is back on the countertop, it’s not going anywhere!
From: Tomayto Tomaaahto
- 4 ready-made panini rolls
- ½ cup mozzarella, grated or sliced
- ½ cup feta cheese, sliced or crumbled
- ½ bell pepper (I used ¼ orange and ¼ yellow), sliced
- 8 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
- Pinch of oregano
- Oil for the grill
- Split your bread in half lengthways and sprinkle ½ the mozzarella over the bottom halves.
- Next add the feta, then peppers and olives. Finally, sprinkle with oregano and the other half of the mozzarella before putting the 'lids' on.
- Heat your grill and, once it's ready, brush it lightly with oil (top and bottom). Place a panino on it and close the lid. Grill for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden-brown.
- Remove from the grill, cut in half on a diagonal and wrap in a tea towel to keep warm while you repeat steps 3 and 4 with the other panini.
1. I could have put tomatoes in there, but they have a tendency to grab and hold on to the heat, turning them into little napalm nuggets which are very child-unfriendly.
2. If you don't have Kalamata olives, use another kind or leave them out. But please, please, please don't use those canned black formaldehyde 'olives' that look and taste like they came off a factory assembly line. Or, if you do, don't ever tell me. (Olives are one thing I allow myself to get 'food-snobby' about.)
3. If you can't find ready-made panini bread, buy some of those 'bake at home' baguettes and cut them in half so they fit on your grill. You don't need to bake them (they're already half-baked anyway), as they'll cook on the grill. Use them as you would panini bread. You could, of course, just use regular sliced bread and make these into toasties.
4. If you don't have a panini grill/sandwich press, you can still make these. Just heat up a large skillet, brush lightly with oil and put a sandwich on there. Use another large (and heavy) skillet or saucepan on top to press it down. Flip when it's halfway done.
5. If the power of suggestion is strong with you too, and you're thinking you need to go buy a grill, then I suggest you get one that has removable grill plates. Makes washing up oh so much easier. Mine has four different kinds of plates you can swap out (one set does waffles - yum). It's great but it's small, and only does one panino at a time. It was fine when there were just two of us, but now we are four it might be time to upgrade. Seen any good grill ads lately?