I was so busy justifying the potential of my new Panini Press (i.e. indoor grill, inanimate lover, etc.) that I neglected to use it in its intended incarnation. Meaning, I, like, forgot to use it to press paninis and stuff. Here I was, all grilling up artichokes and boasting about its speed, efficiency, and undeniable beauty, and all of my meticulous plans for paninis were tossed by the wayside.
Once I reached by the wayside to retrieve my plans, they were decidedly amiss. So it goes. It wasn’t my intent to make Giada’s pear and taleggio panini immediately, though it was my sole reason for investing in the Press. I blame my elusive plans and the fact that all the ingredients were, like, conspiring against me while I was doing my grocery shopping this past weekend. Arugula, for instance, usually gets off on the fact that it’s oh so fantastic at hiding behind the common-folk, iceberg and romaine. And, for once, GUESS who was all front and center? And, at $1.99 a bag, I’d have to be batshit craaaazy to pass up that deal. Then, I went to the cheese shop, and taleggio was on special at $0.99. I’ve never searched for that distinct soft Italian cheese before, but I’m assuming it rarely hovers around affordable-even-by-my-poverty-line-groping standards. I was powerless, so I caved.
I bought a massive loaf of ciabatta bread and some Anjou (the firm, green ones) pears, and went to work. I didn’t alter Giada’s recipe in the least, so I started by drizzling both halves of my bread with olive oil. I then pressed the bottom half (the business end) for 3-4 minutes, until it looked like this:
Don’t you just want to shove it down as is? But wait, there’s more! I then removed the bottom half from the Press and tossed the top in. While the top grilled, I spread some taleggio on the bottom, then topped with sliced pears, honey, salt, pepper, and a handful of arugula. By then, the top was grilled, so I added it to the sandwich and placed the entire panini in the Press. I then grilled that for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, I made this adorable salad I found in the Food Network magazine. I sliced half a red onion and sauteed it in olive oil, and then added a can of drained garbanzo beans. I then peeled four carrots until they looked all pasta-like, and added them to the browned onion and chickpea mix along with a couple cloves of minced garlic and a handful of sunflower seeds:
The taleggio started to sizzle all impatient-like on the Press, so I knew it was time to deliver. I added just some salt and pepper to the salad, and plated them alongside my excess pears, drizzled in honey. In a word? Damn. The contrast between the sharp cheese, sweet pear and honey, and peppery arugula was unreal. My compliments to the Food Network: