Category Archives: Lunch

Panini with Prosciutto di Parma, Basil, Tomato and Mozzarella (aka best sandwich ever).

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When I was living in London for the summer of 2001, I walked by a little café after work every evening.  This café had a glass display case with different variations of panini.  The one that struck me the most was this:

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The panini were all displayed open-faced so you could see the various ingredients in each one. This one in particular, consisted of a thin layer of Prosciutto di Parma, a handful of fresh basil leaves, single layer of sliced tomato, and fresh mozzarella delicately draped on top.

I had to take it out for dinner.

I inhaled approximately 25 of these in the course of the summer. I remember once eating two in the same day. I would be happy eating this as my last meal.

There’s just something about the combination of Prosciutto, basil, tomato and mozzarella melted together that makes this unbelievably delicious.

This was the first meal I made my husband when we were dating. He took one bite and said I was the best cook ever. It was only a sandwich. We had a long way to go.

Grilled Panini with Prosciutto, tomato, basil and mozzarella (serves 2-4)

Secret ingredients for a quick marriage proposal:

  • 20 inch baguette
  • 4 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma
  • thinly sliced mozzarella (Belgioioso if possible)
  • 1 tomato, sliced thin
  • 20-24 basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Panini press (or George Foreman grill)

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Prosciutto di Parma is the greatest thing ever cured from a pig. There, I said it. It has an extremely strong, savory flavor, and you only need a couple thin slices on a sandwich to get the full effect. If the lady at the deli tries to sell you a cheaper brand of prosciutto (like the store-made brand, or Prosciutto di San Daniele), confidently tell her you specifically want it ‘di Parma’. I know it sells at my store for $19.99/lb., but I only buy 4 thin slices, and the couple dollars is well worth it for this panini once in awhile. You aren’t making a submarine with 25 slices of various meats/cheeses, and I believe that quality surely beats out quantity in this case.

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I love fresh basil. It’s a great accompaniment to the Prosciutto and brings out the flavors in the meat even more.

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Using a bread knife, slice the baguette in half, and cut them open. Drizzle olive oil on both sides.

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Place 2 slices of Prosciutto on each half.

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Place a single layer of thinly sliced tomatoes on top.

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Add basil leaves.

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Top with thinly sliced mozzarella, and salt/pepper to taste.

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 I’m not sure if you know how beautiful this really is….here’s another shot…..

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No….I don’t think you REALLY know yet….

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Close em up and prepare the panini press.

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Wait until it heats up and put them on the grill.

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Be careful not to burn the top of your hand. I cringed as I watched my husband do this.

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Press as firmly as possible.

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 Grill until golden. Expect the person you’re serving this to offer you a lifetime commitment.

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Chicken Salad with Red Grapes and Walnuts

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This chicken salad is surprisingly delicious with a unique flavor combination of sweet red grapes and walnuts. Think of Waldorf salad, but instead of apples, use grapes. And add chicken. Ok, so the only thing this has in common with Waldorf is the walnuts. But you get the idea. It is delicious on a bed of salad greens, or in a sandwich, or on crackers. Use a croissant if you’re not afraid of a heart attack.

Chicken Salad with Red Grapes and Walnuts (serves 8)

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. onion, minced
  • 1 small bunch of red grapes, chopped
  • 1 handful of walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1) If you have the time, to get really juicy chicken breasts, cook on medium low heat in a pot of half chicken broth/half water for 1.5 – 2 hours. Take out of pot and let rest for few minutes, then chop. Or, use cooked leftover chicken chunks. Place chicken cubes in bowl.

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2) Trim bottom of 2 washed stalks of celery. Cut thin vertical strips.

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3) Finely chop. Add to bowl.

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4) Add minced onion to bowl.

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5) I’m not being accurate with saying ‘1 small bunch of grapes’. But this is how much I used. Chop into quarter slices. Add into bowl.

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6) Add walnuts to bowl.

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You can see the bottom of my wine glass in this picture. Yes, please drink wine when you make something as simple as chicken salad.

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7) Add one cup mayonnaise to salad. I used Hellmann’s made with Canola, it tastes just as good as regular, and about half the calories. Or you can use the mayo of your preference.

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8) Squeeze half a lemon into salad. Mix with spoon, and salt/pepper to taste.

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9) Serve as a sandwich, on a bed of salad, on crackers, etc. Refrigerate unused portions in airtight container.

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Soooooooooooooooo gooooooooooooood. I will never make chicken salad without grapes again.

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