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Italian Panini

Italian Panini

More Griddlin’ going on in the kitchen of Dr. Domestic.  I was sitting in a scientific seminar today, at 4:30pm on a Friday, and my mind drifted off to what I was going to make for dinner.  Don’t judge me, is your mind really on the ball that close to quittin’ time on Friday afternoon?  My brain (guided by my growling tummy) kept coming back to paninis.  So easy and so good, and the husband is always up for it.  I settled on Italian Paninis.  The options for fillings are endless, so I just picked my favorites, and some of Greg’s favorites too.

The most time consuming part of these (by far) was preparing the balsamic carmelized onions.  When the hubby and I go to one of our favorite local restaraunts, Ingredient, we always get pizza with balsamic carmelized onions.  And every time we taste them, Greg says, “Oh these are so good, you should make them at home.”

So I finally tried it tonight.  Carmelized onions are not hard, they just take a bit of time.  Mostly unsupervised time, thankfully.  My onions turned from this:

uncooked onions

uncooked onions

To this, in about 45 minutes.

carmelized onions

carmelized onions

Here’s how: Thinly slice 2 medium sized onions and put them in a non-stick skillet with about 2 tsp olive oil.  Add about 1/4 tsp of salt and 1 tsp sugar and allow them to cook over medium low heat, stirring every few minutes, for about 45 minutes.  About 10 minutes before they are done, add about 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar.  Once they are done, taste for salt/sugar and adjust to your liking.

mmmm, balsamic-y goodness

mmmm, balsamic-y goodness

And after the onions were done cooking, it was easy sandwich assembly.

First layers: Provolone cheese and pepperoni

Layers #1 and 2

Layers #1 and 2

Next up, hard Salami and peppers.  I chose the hot pickeled banana peppers (on the left), Greg opted for the sweet roasted red peppers (on the right).

Layers #3 and 4

Layers #3 and 4

And finally, fresh basil and the carmelized onions on the flip side.

Layers #5 and 6

Layers #5 and 6

Now just lightly butter the outsides and toss them on a panini press, heated to medium.  They cook in about 8 minutes.  Alternatively, you can cook them in a big skillet, weighted down with a foil covered brick or cast iron pan.

I don’t need to give you a recipe for these right?  Just put what you want to on them!

Instead, I’ll leave you with a couple lessons learned from my experience tonight.  Cut up the basil before putting it in the sandwich.  The large leaves kept coming out of the sandwiches whole as we’d bite into them.  Also, use hearty, crusty bread.  The sourdough bread I used was a bit flimsy and wasn’t quite up for the task of handling the load of ingredients I saddled it with.

Otherwise, the dinner I made tonight turned out to be very tasty.  On the side we had some kettle-fried salt and black pepper potato chips.  Have you guys tried those?  They’re dangerously good!

dinner

Prep Ranking: #2 – Weeknight Fare
Tastiness Grade: 8.5/10
– better bread would bump it up slightly!

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