09 December 2012

Raspberry Basil Panini

We are typically seasonal produce eaters.  Whatever fresh fruits and veggies that are the most beautiful and bountiful are added to our cart.  And as an added perk, these items are usually on sale (frugal pride).  So imagine my surprise when gorgeous, fresh raspberries popped up in December.  Not really berry season, so double shock when they were on sale at summer prices.  Naturally, I had to buy a few containers.  Who could resist that lovely magenta?  And here is how they were all eaten.

I love a fresh fruit panini.  Cranberry and turkey, yes please.  Granny smith apple and cheddar, classic.  And don't get me started on strawberry brie, oh buddy.  But when I saw a pin for this delectable looking Fontina + Blackberry Basil Smash Sandwiches, I nearly smacked myself in the head.  Fresh basil is, hands down, my all time favorite herb.  I am obsessed with it.  I will throw it on pretty much everything, including vanilla ice cream and Frank's Red Hot sauce.  But never had I thought of adding it to a fruit panini.  Just thinking of all the wasted opportunities brings a tear to my eye....

But now is not the time for tears.  It is the time for relishing this amazing little panini.  Three disparate ingredients, smashed together between two pieces of bread and toasted to perfection.  What's not to love?  

The key to bringing this all together is a good melting cheese.  Our fridge happened to have a substantial stock of edam, a mild Dutch melting cheese that is wonderful in this type of dish (and pictured above).  Now I have nothing against the heartier flavors of cheddar or Colby jack, but the raspberries and the basil are the stars here.  Edam is perfect here, as would be a fontina or young gouda.  Even mozzarella would work, just use whatever mild cheese you happen to have on hand.

Raspberry Basil Panini (2 servings)
  • 8 slices whole wheat baguette
  • 20 raspberries (if you're using frozen, be sure they're not thawed)
  • 12-14 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  •  4 oz edam, fontina or other mild melting cheese
  • butter (optional - leave off for a healthier sandwich)
Turn your panini pan onto medium-high or place a medium skillet over medium heat.  Lightly butter one side of each piece of bread and place butter-side down on a cutting board.  Distribute the cheese evenly between four of the slices of bread, an ounce per bread slice.  Top with 5 raspberries and a sprinkle with a few basil leaves.  Top with the remaining slices of bread, butter-side up.  Cook in the panini press for about 8 minutes or in the skillet for about 4 minutes on each side, until the bread is well toasted and the cheese is starting to melt.  Serve with a light salad and extra raspberries.  

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