What you'll need for 4 sandwiches (dinner for 2, or brunch for 4):
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread
- 8 oz brie cheese
- 2 peaches
- 2-3 handfuls of arugula/baby spinach
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons honey
- salt and pepper
1) Slice the ciabatta loaf into fourths, and then divide each fourth in half lengthwise. You know, sandwich-like. Working with two of the sandwiches at a time, brush olive oil on the non-crusty sides, and place in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
2) While the sandwich insides are getting all crispy, slice the brie and the peaches. I just sliced off the sides of each peach around the pit, and then cut the resulting wedges in half lengthwise, so that they weren't too thick.
3) Once you're done slicing the cheese/peaches, and the bread is relatively warm and crispy, take the bottom part of each sandwich off the frying pan and assemble the paninis. Start with a layer of cheese, then drizzle with a little honey and grind out some salt and pepper. Then add a layer of peaches, and repeat the honey drizzling and salt/pepper process. Top the sandwiches with some of the arugula and baby spinach mixture, then add the top pieces of bread from the frying pan. Now brush the outside, crusty parts of the bread with olive oil, and put back in the pan.
4) This next part is the tricky step. The sandwiches need to be pressed for a real panini experience, and also because at the moment they are a little too big to comfortably fit your mouth around. For our ghetto version of a panini press, I got out a second frying pan, put it on top of the sandwiches, and then made The Pit stand there and push down on the second frying pan with his hands.** After a couple minutes, we flipped the sandwiches upside down so that the tops could also get crispy and warm. If you don't have a handy boyfriend to do the pressing, I've also seen Rachel Ray use a foil-covered brick over her second frying pan. However, I don't know many people with piles of convenient bricks outside their front doors.***
Some notes about substitutions: If you clicked on the link to the original recipe, you saw that the it called for taleggio cheese. Not only had I never heard of it before, but neither had the girl stocking cheeses at Trader Joe's. However, brie worked fine as a substitute.
I was also tempted to sub in some french bread for the ciabatta when I saw that the latter was $4 a loaf at our local grocery store, but after tasting the results with ciabatta, I'm glad I didn't. That was $4 well spent, although next time I'll pick up the bread at Trader Joe's while I'm getting the brie, as I think it might be cheaper there.
The original recipe also called for arugula as the lettuce-like topping, but although I tried, I couldn't find arugula by itself at the grocery store. The mix with the baby spinach was fine, and I'm pretty sure you could sub in one of those fancy spring lettuce mixes as well.
As for other toppings, I'm temped to try this again with thin slices of Granny Smith apples instead of the peaches. You could also go for pears like the original recipe says. Other suggestions from the internets, unverified by yours truly but which could potentially be good: fontina cheese, goat cheese, and prosciutto with the cheeses for those who like their paninis more meaty.****
* Is it just me or does the multiple of panini look awfully dirty somehow? I shall use the singular as much as possible from here on out.
** The top frying pan doesn't heat up, so this wasn't torture or anything. Also, I could have done this myself, but I needed a step stool to get to the proper height for pressing. This was embarrassing.
*** Except for Rob. Hi Rob!
**** Heh. I lied about the singular.