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Ham, Apple and Blue Cheese Panini

Ham, Apple and Blue Cheese Panini

I’ve been a bit M.I.A. from the kitchen the past few days.  Very, very busy at work lately, plus I’ve been having mouth issues.  My issues stem from (yes I’ll admit it) my poor flossing habits as well as a medication I take that has a lovely side effect of mouth sores.  Sorry for sharing too much, but I have to have some valid excuse for the fact that my last two dinners have consisted of Ramen Noodles and Hot Dogs.  Both very gum-friendly foods.  Have you ever noticed that all the good foods in the world are crunchy?  Well, that’s not true, but it certainly seems that way when your mouth feels like one big, exposed nerve.

So I’m back on the horse tonight, in a big way with these crusty, crunchy panini sandwiches.  This recipe was inspired by the Harvest Ham sandwich at a fabulous restaraunt here in Lawrence, Freestate Brewery.  Greg fell in love with the sandwich, which is only available seasonally, so he asked me to try making it at home.  I was looking for excuses to use our fun panini press we received as a wedding present.

The main components of the sandwich are Ham, tart apple and blue cheese crumbles.  Oops, I gave that away in the title didn’t I?  Since I’ve never actually eaten the sandwich at Freestate, I had to take a guess at what kind of dressing was used to moisten the bread on the inside of the sandwich.  I’m not a mustard fan, and I didn’t think mayo would go well.  So I whipped up a balsamic vinegrette and it worked absolutely perfectly.

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

After whisking it up with some salt and pepper, spread it onto some good quality sour-dough with a pastry brush.

Vinagrette on the bread

After that, its just sandwich assembly.  First the ham, then the thinly sliced apple, then the blue cheese.

The Perfect Combo

The Perfect Combo

Squish it all together and lightly butter the outsides.

Sandwich Assembly Line

Sandwich Assembly Line

Throw it on a hot panini press and let it toast and heat through.  The apple will soften and the cheese will melt.

Gettin' Pressed

Gettin' Pressed

If you don’t have a fancy panini press, you can put them in a heated cast iron (or nonstick) pan with another heavy (or weighed down) pan, lined with foil, an top of the sandwiches.  This really does work well, I did it for a long time before the fancy panini press entered our lives!

A very CRUNCHY dinner

A very CRUNCHY dinner

As I was easing back into the whole food preparation thing tonight, a side dish was beyond the scope of my abilities.  Hence the tortilla chips and roasted tomatillo salsa.

Oh, and if you have just a tiny bit of ham leftover, and maybe a spare slice of apple and a wayward crumble of blue cheese, you won’t be sorry if you just smoosh it all together and pop it in your mouth.  Its a magical combination 🙂

Leftovers? No Problem!

Leftovers? No Problem!

Prep Ranking: #2 – Weeknight Fare
Tastiness Grade: 8.5/10

Recipe after the break.

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