Tonight I just wanted a quick and easy dinner. I had some italian bread left over in the fridge, so I thought a panini would be a good call. I love paninis because they're sandwiches that need no condiments and are always hot, crispy and melty. Yes, I used the Taco Bell "melty" word - but folks, it was mine first. Deal with it. Anyway, if something is crispy and melty - nine times out of ten, that means it's gonna be damn good. In this case, it was just that: damn good. Now the truth is, if you want a grilled sandwich, you could just grab some turkey breast and a piece of american cheese, throw it between two slices of bread and either grill it or toast it in the toaster oven. You COULD do this... but why would you when there are so many wonderful ingredients and possibilities for many, many different types of paninis? A panini is like a blank canvas, so get creative!
The ingredients I went with this evening were crusty italian bread, marinated artichoke hearts, diced plum tomatoes, and wonderful-delicious-spectacular-fantastic Dutch Tradition Gouda cheese (a big shout-out to my beloved Costco for always carrying this wonderful cheese). Folks, if you can find this brand of Gouda cheese, buy it immediately. It is hands down my very favorite cheese and that's a hard thing for me, a cheese lover, to say. It's THAT good.
To make this sandwich from heaven, simply drizzle some olive oil on one side of the bread and place it on your griddle. You don't own a griddle? Why not? I use mine about 5 out of the 7 days of every week... seriously. I LOVE it. You must own one.
Then top the bread with some cheese, tomatoes and artichokes hearts. Season with a bit of dried basil and fresh ground pepper.
Put a little more cheese on top and put the lid on the sandwich.
Take your trusty handheld weighted grill press (What? You don't have one of those either? Ok, tomorrow night you're taking a trip to Williams Sonoma or Bed Bath and Beyond - got it? Sheesh!) and place it on top of your panini. You should grill your panini over medium heat only so it has enough time to melt the cheese without burning the bread. Turn, press again and your done. Who needs a big clunky plug-in panini press? Uh... no one!
Now cut your panini in half and you are left with this wonderful goodness. Bon appetito!