25 February 2010
Prosciutto & Spinach Panini with Pesto & Yogurt Cheese
I love panini! Somehow, eating meat on bread becomes less of an issue for me when it's pressed, hot, and cheesy. Also little grammar lesson for you? Do not try to pluralize it as "paninis". It is already plural, kind of like "pizelle" or "moose".
These were simple panini - I made pesto, then smeared it on lovely fresh Pugliese bread, topped with prosciutto, fresh spinach, and yogurt cheese. Delicious! For any of you who want specifics - it was two pieces of prosciutto, maybe 1/3 cup spinach, two slices (about 1" x 4" x 1/4" thick) of yogurt cheese, and maybe 1/2 tbsp. pesto on each sandwich.
I gave you some pesto advice a while ago, but I thought I'd add a more detailed "recipe". I put that in quotes because I'm pretty flexible when I make pesto - you never know what it will be like texturally, and you will most likely have to add and subtract quantities in order to get the perfect consistency for your recipe.
My favorite thing about pesto is its versatility. It works great as a spread on sandwiches, a topping for grilled meat, to brush on kabobs, and of course, as a pasta sauce. It's nice to make pesto in big batches, then freeze it for later use. You can use up your summer basil and enjoy it all year round. At this time of year, if basil is super expensive, you can use part basil and sub other herbs in for the rest of the quantity. Flat leaf parsley is my go-to substitute, but you can experiment with other mild herbs too.
1 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 c. pignoli (pine nuts) or walnuts
2 cloves garlic, peeled
salt & pepper
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients except olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until mixture stops moving (mine typically gets stuck to the sides once it's been minced). Scrape down the sides, then while running the food processor, stream olive oil in through the feed tube. Stop, scrape down the sides, and taste the pesto. Depending on its consistency, you may want to add more basil and nuts (to thicken it) or more olive oil (to thin it out). Remember to season it to taste with salt and pepper. The pesto I made this time was very thick - I wanted it to spread nicely on sandwiches and not be watery at all. When I turned it into a pesto cream for pasta later in the week, I thinned it out with milk and a bit of heavy cream.
Store pesto for a couple days in food storage containers as pictured above, or ladle into ice cube trays and freeze. Store the frozen cubes in a zip-top bag. Each cube is 2 tablespoons of pesto - the perfect amount for four panini or one bowl of pasta.