We received a really nice mandoline as wedding gift and in the 10 years we have been married I have probably used the mandoline 10 times. It works very well and I love to use it because it makes me think of dear friends and an amazing day. I just hate getting it out, mainly because I store it on a shelf that is impossible to reach and I am too lazy to get it.
With the farmers market opening and Spring vegetables making an appearance on our dinner table I decided to haul the mandoline out, find a new home for it and make an effort to use it more often. To get back in the groove of using it I decided to make Paninis. Not only are Paninis an amazing food, they also remind me of the same friends who gave us the mandoline, so they were the perfect inaugural meal.
For me the thing that make paninis amazing is that so many flavors can be layered together and enjoyed in one delicious bite. So the thinner the ingredients the more you can add. The fact that they are also portable, can be eaten hot or cold and can be fixed quickly is icing on the cake. My kids like making paninis because they can custom make the sandwiches adding all of their favorite items and avoiding the items they don't like, which makes for a happier meal time for everyone.
I kept these sandwiches pretty simple. I started by slicing some eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. Drizzled the veggies with some olive oil, and sprinkled them with a little salt and pepper, then tossed them in a 350 oven. They baked for about 20 minutes and when they came out they were a magical combination of juicy and crunchy.
When it was time to assemble the sandwiches I began emptying the fridge. I put the baked squash out along with some, tomato slices, roasted peppers, roasted chicken, prosciutto, provolone cheese, goat cheese, Tapenade spread and a spicy lime vinaigrette - you really can't have too many options when it comes time Panini assembly. We made the sandwiches on a thick crusty bread and drizzled a little olive oil on the outside of the bread. We then got to work assembling. As always I was surprised at the kids choices, each chose an item that they would normally push away if it was given to them on a dinner plate.
My panini press broke last summer, but while it is a fun machine to have it isn't necessary. A brick wrapped in foil works just as well. After about 5-7 minutes per side over medium low heat all the flavors begin to meld together forming a wonderful sandwich that welcomes summer and the opportunity to reminisce of good friends.