I might dream all day long about baking bread and making lasagna with homemade pasta—but in reality sometimes I’m lucky to find a full 20 minutes from entering the kitchen to the moment when my family starts circling like vultures. Lately I’ve been looking for quick ways to revel in gorgeous summer produce, but with a little nod to the crisp weather up around the bend. Inspired by one of my favorite food blogs, this deliriously gooey and crunchy panini fits the bill perfectly.
I have a handy repertory of quick, healthy meals—but sometimes I need a sparkle of inspiration. And that sparkle often comes from the World Wide Web’s muse of wholesome cooking: Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks.
This dish, inspired by one of Ms. 101′s sandwiches, is the perfect way to celebrate the great tomatoes and basil of the season, but also lends a little coziness to that faint chill that is starting to pop up here and there. Finding the perfect food to bridge the seasons is a great way to soak up the last of the summer flavors, and add a bit of comfort in excited anticipation of the cool up ahead. This sandwich is quick, family-friendly, and will also go perfectly with Cait’s Super-Quick Fresh Tomato Soup.
1/2 clove of garlic
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup organic ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 ball of fresh mozzarella
3 Heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 slab of ciabatta, foccacia, or other flat, pressable bread
1. Combine the garlic, olive oil, ricotta, basil and salt in a food processor and blend for about 15 seconds or until the cheese turns pale green. Set aside.
2. Cut the slab of bread in half horizontally and then cut it into the size and shape of sandwiches you like. If the bread is fluffy, you can remove some of the center so that the ingredients will have a little well to settle in.
3. Slice mozzarella into 1/4-inch thick rounds. If the mozzarella hangs over the side of the bread, cut the rounds in half.
4. Drizzle the tomato slices with a some olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper.
5. Spread ricotta mixture on the top and bottom of each sandwich and place mozzarella slices inside. Press in a panini maker, or cook in a skillet with a weight on top on the sandwiches (there are numerous options here: a foil-covered brick, a filled tea kettle, a heavy cast-iron lid, etc) until cheese is melted.
6. Open the sandwiches and line with tomatoes, close them and serve.
By Melissa Breyer, Producer, Care2 Green Living