Ever since my Food52 victory with this Prosciutto & Fontina Panini, I have been on a sandwich kick, trying any and all variations of cured meat with rich melty cheese and an appropriate condiment. For November Mag Club, I decided to forsake the meat all together and, instead, allow this pungent sundried tomato pesto to take center stage (much to Cara’s delight–she’s obsessive about sundried tomatoes). The mozzarella is mild so as not to detract from the sauce, and the arugula lends just the right amount of freshness to an otherwise pantry-friendly sandwich.
If, by the way, you are looking for a use for that last slice of dry, bland turkey (which you are positively sick of), what better way to hide your protein than by sandwiching it between slices of cheese, crusty bread, and a large slather of garlic-y pesto?
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Sundried Tomato Pesto Panini
Makes 4 sandwiches
1 loaf ciabatta, sliced lengthwise
1/2 lb whole milk mozzarella, thinly sliced
2 large handfuls baby arugula
For the pesto:
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 tsp salt
½ lemon, juiced
1/2 cup oil (may be more depending on how thick or thin you want your pesto)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
In a small food processor, pulse the pine nuts, tomatoes and garlic until coarsely chopped. Add the lemon juice and salt and pulse to combine. Stream in olive oil and continue to blend until all the ingredients are finely chopped and the pesto is smooth and creamy. Add the Parmesan, and pulse to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
Preheat the broiler.
Place the two slices of bread crust side down on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until beginning to crisp but not totally browned. Slather both sides of bread evenly with pesto and arrange the cheese slices in a single layer. Return the bread to the oven and continue to toast until the cheese has melted, about 3-5 minutes.
Place the arugula on one side of the bread and sandwich the halves together.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Depending on the size of your pan and the size of the ciabatta, you may have to cut the sandwich in half like I did. Set the sandwich top side down in the pan and weight it with a smaller skillet and/or a heavy bowl (see image above) so the bread is crushed and flattened as it toasts. When the bread has browned, repeat on the other side. When finished, the panini should be browned, crisped, and flattened, and should have cheese oozing from it. Toast the remaining half (if necessary), and then cut it again to create four sandwiches.