Monday, September 14, 2009

Love panini? Top chef’s tips for making grilled sandwiches at home

(ARA) - Gourmet panini is still a hot trend and many people look to duplicate the bold flavors of restaurant-grilled sandwiches in the comfort of their own homes. While there are countless ways to create a warm delicious panino or grilled sandwich, natural cheese serves as the common thread throughout most recipes.

Over the years, sandwich making has evolved beyond the simple stacking of ham and process cheese on white bread. Today, delicious fresh ingredients like turkey, sharp provolone and arugula are combined on grilled ciabatta bread to create more memorable gourmet panini. To honor this evolution and the popularity of the panini, Chef Jason Denton, author of "Simple Italian Sandwiches" joins with Sargento to encourage everyone to create their own twist on the classic grilled sandwich.

"When I prepare panini, I only use the freshest ingredients and natural cheese in my recipes," says Denton. "It is important to remember that choosing to cook with deli-quality natural sliced cheeses, like the newly introduced Sargento Sharp Provolone, Vermont Sharp White Cheddar or Reduced Fat Pepper Jack, will offer a greater variety of flavor and complexity to hot grilled sandwiches."

When it comes to key ingredients like cheese, consumers know natural is best. In fact, 82 percent of consumers list natural cheese among their favorite toppings on hot grilled sandwiches, versus only 27 percent that choose process cheese.

"In the first bite of a perfectly made hot grilled sandwich, you’ll taste how natural cheese gives panini a creamy texture and full-bodied flavor that process cheese can’t deliver," says Denton.

For the best results, practice these panini tips from Jason Denton:

Fresh ingredients

Good ingredients make a great sandwich. For the freshest taste, use seasonal vegetables and a flavorful natural sliced cheese.

Keep it simple

When it comes to panini, less is more. Try not to put more than three main ingredients in your panini. This allows all the great flavors to come through and ensure a simply delicious sandwich.

Be patient

Patience brings perfection. Lightly cook a fresh ciabatta loaf or roll, so it doesn’t become too brittle, and most importantly, grill your panini slowly. Natural cheese melts more slowly than process cheese, but the result is more than worth the wait of a few minutes.

This recipe for Smoked Turkey, Pine Nut Pesto and Sharp Provolone panini created by Jason Denton will show you the delicious difference natural ingredients can make in a grilled sandwich.

Smoked Turkey, Pine Nut Pesto and Sharp Provolone Panini
Serves Two


2 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
7 slices Sargento Deli Style Sliced Provolone Cheese, divided
Salt and pepper
4 to 6 turkey slices (thin)
4 slices ciabatta bread
1 bunch baby arugula


Pulse pine nuts in blender to chop. Add oil, three slices cheese torn in small pieces and salt and pepper. Blend to form pesto. Place one slice cheese and turkey on each of two slices bread. Add seven to eight pieces arugula and another slice of cheese on each. Spread three tablespoons pesto on top of each. Close sandwiches and grill for three to five minutes or until golden brown.

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Courtesy of ARA Content

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