Food Matters Project: Open-Faced Mini Panini

This post is part of the Food Matters Project, a cooking collaboration among participating bloggers. Each week, we will cook a recipe from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook, which places an emphasis on mindful and sustainable eating. Follow along with us!

This week’s original recipe for Chocolate-Cherry Panini was selected by Margarita of Let’s Cook & Be Friends. Having studied abroad in multiple countries where Nutella on toast with tea was my go-to breakfast, I know the tastiness of a sweet sandwich. Sweet panini are the grilled cheeses of the dessert world: hot, delicious, melty and oozy with a million different styles, ranging from messily indulgent to classy with mature ingredient pairings. The panini press at my college was popular because you could make anything, anything, grill it and bam: the ultimate flavor mash-up. Oftentimes these sandwich combinations were something akin to a stoner’s kitchen raid, but post-press, it had a certain air of class with its Italian-born moniker.

Summer has me thinking parties, hosting and little bites. I decided to deconstruct the sandwich and turn it into an open-faced appetizer, but I met some challenges along the way. For starters, how does one describe a mini panini? I searched for a better name, but realized that creating a cute mini-something generally means adding -ini to the end. This is where the word panini failed me. Panini in general, however, are pretty fail-proof. Another issue: could I accurately replicate the oozy-goodness of a closed-face sandwich? The trick was to use spreads. My old friend Nutella was back in the picture. This recipe is incredibly versatile, and many of the things can be found in your fridge or pantry. One element that Bittman’s original recipe left out was something crunchy, and I feel this texture is essential. Add chopped nuts, puffed rice, or sesame seeds. The result? Panini bites that are crispy, sweet, & melty. For other blogger’s variations that promise the same deliciousness, check out the Food Matters Project.

** Recipe **

Open-Faced Mini Panini
Serves 2. Multiply and diversify for a crowd!

2 slices of thick bread (rye, wheat, & pumpernickel are good)
Mascarpone cheese
Chopped nuts (almonds & walnuts)
Fruit (Cherries, Raspberries)

Using a knife or cookie cutter, cut circular or rectangular bite-sized pieces out of the bread. Place on a panini press and close, grilling for 30 seconds or until desired crispiness is reached. Alternately, use a frying pan, grill pan or toaster. On one kind of bread layer mascarpone cheese, jam (I used blueberry-pecan) and chopped walnuts. On the other bread pieces, layer Nutella, chopped almonds, and fruit.

Other flavors to experiment with:
-Fig spread, walnuts, & coconut flakes
-Nutella, raspberries, & white chocolate chips
-Peanut butter, melted dark chocolate, & sesame seeds
-Mascarpone, mango pieces, & crushed pretzels

Kenzie Zimmer recently moved to Minneapolis, and is excited to explore a new city this summer.

Originally posted on Monday, June 18th, 2012

3 Responses to “Food Matters Project: Open-Faced Mini Panini”

  1. Margarita

    June 18th, 2012

    love love love the combination of mascarpone and Nutella! must give this a try soon! :)

  2. Sarah from 20something cupcakes

    June 18th, 2012

    The grilled cheese of the dessert world, love! Your version looks fantastic!

  3. Lexi

    June 19th, 2012

    This sounds great!

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