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Easy, cheesy panini recipes

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Yum! Panini

Don't you love the toasty bread and seemingly unreplicable fillings of restaurant panini? Those mouthwatering crisp, tender hot sandwiches don't have to be a special occasion treat. With a grill or panini press, you can have restaurant-caliber panini in the comfort of your own kitchen. To lend to your panini inspiration, August is National Panini Month, giving you the tasty opportunity to experiment with a different type of panini every day. Here are a few panini recipes to get you started.

Panini with Turkey Pesto

National Panini Month

Panini seems to be a growing trend with staying power. Not only is a delectable variety of panini available on restaurant menus, more and more people are sinking their teeth into grilled sandwiches or sandwiches toasted in a panini press.

In addition to a sturdy bread and flavorful meats or veggies, one of the most important components in a panino is the ooey gooey melted cheese. Taking the lead from a recent survey indicating that 82 percent of consumers consider natural cheese among their favorite grilled sandwiches, leading cheese producer Sargento Foods declared August National Panini Month.

"The prevalence of panini is too widespread to be ignored, and because cheese is such an important part of any grilled sandwich, we wanted to take the initiative to declare a month in its honor," says Scholz, marketing manager at Sargento.

As part of the celebration of National Panini Month, a recognized food holiday by the Chase's Calendar of Events, Sargento has partnered with Chef Jason Denton, professional chef and cookbook author of Simple Italian Sandwiches and Simple Italian Snacks, to offer consumers new panini recipes featuring Sargento's natural cheeses for each day in August with an online Panini Month Calendar at www.sargentocheese.com.

Panini recipes

Recipes courtesy of Chef Jason Denton and Sargento Foods, Inc.

PAnini with Vermont Sharp White Cheddar & House-Made Pickled Vegetables

Panini with Vermont Sharp White Cheddar & House-Made Pickled Vegetables Serves 2

Ingredients:
1/2 cup sliced cucumbers
1/2 cup sliced red onions
1/2 cup sliced radishes
1 cup water
1 cup red wine vinegar
4 slices ciabatta bread
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 slices Vermont sharp white cheddar cheese

Directions:
1. Place cucumbers, red onions and radishes in a jar with water and red wine vinegar to completely cover the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

2. Drain pickled vegetables and divide among 2 slices of bread. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Cover generously with 2 or 3 slices of cheese. Top with remaining slices of bread.

4. Grill 3 to 5 minutes, flipping once. Panini is ready when bread is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Note: The great thing about pickling vegetables is you can do a lot at once and use them throughout the week. Make a large batch and keep it handy in the refrigerator.

Baby Swiss Panini with Summer Squash, Fresh Mint and Chile

Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 small zucchini or yellow summer squash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 ciabatta rolls
6 slices baby Swiss cheese or aged Swiss cheese

Directions:
1. Cut squash diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices. Toss with oil and chile flakes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange in one layer in preheated panini pan. Close press and cook 3 minutes or until squash is seared and tender.

2. Slice off the tops of the ciabatta rolls (save tops for another use, like croutons or breadcrumbs). The rolls should now be 1-inch thick. Split the rolls horizontally.

3. Turn bottom halves up and top with 2 slices of cheese, squash mixture, mint and remaining cheese.

4. Close sandwiches with top halves of ciabatta rolls. Brush lightly with additional olive oil, if desired.

5. Cook sandwiches in preheated panini maker or on gas grill for 4 to 5 minutes, turning once, until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown.

Note: Substitute ciabatta rolls with 4 large slices multi-grain or whole wheat bread of your choice.

Smoked Turkey, Pine Nut Pesto and Sharp Provolone Panini

Smoked Turkey PaniniServes 2

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 slices provolone cheese, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 to 6 thin slices of turkey slices
4 slices sourdough bread
1 bunch of baby arugula

Directions:
1. Pulse pine nuts in a blender or food processor to chop. Add oil, 3 slices cheese torn in small pieces and salt and pepper. Puree into a pesto.

2. Place turkey on two pieces of bread and top with 7 to 8 pieces arugula and another slice of cheese. Spread 3 tablespoons of pesto on top.

3. Place remaining slices of bread on top and grill for 3 to 5 minutes, flipping once, until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted.

More mouthwatering sandwich recipes

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