Although we've been in our current house here in Seattle over a year now, I'm still unpacking a few stray boxes from the basement. Last weekend, I unpacked an old, beloved friend: my panini press. And I got right to work preparing this heavenly new sandwich that marries tart marmalade, spicy arugula, creamy brie and little-bit-salty ham.
I am not a big appliance gal. I hate the clutter on the kitchen counters, much preferring simple food that doesn't take much gadgetry to prepare. However, when I received the panini press as a gift a few years ago, pressed sandwiches became a pretty big deal. I made them more often than I'd like to admit.
Panini presses are nice because they can transform pretty ho-hum ingredients into something that seems much fancier than it originally warranted. If you have a few leftover slices of tomato and a nub of good melting cheese, you've got a crispy delightful sandwich in minutes. That being said, you don't need any appliances to make this sandwich — or any pressed sandwich, for that matter. You can easily cook them on the stovetop in a skillet (see separate directions below) just like you would a normal grilled cheese.
I thought of the ingredients for this particular sandwich after I took a marmalade class about a month ago and realized I had more marmalade than we could reasonably eat on breakfast toast or scones. We started spreading it on crackers and even swirling it into yogurt, but I began to think that it'd be wonderful on a sandwich with a nice, creamy cheese. And good bread and ham. And, of course, that leftover arugula that was just begging to be used. The result was a sandwich we'll make again. Often. I think you're going to like it, too.
As is the case with most sandwich recipes, feel free to adapt and swap out ingredients as you wish. Spinach would be nice if you don't care for arugula. Roast turkey would be wonderful instead of ham. My boyfriend Sam likes his much heavier on the mustard and spreads a little soft butter on the inside. You get the picture: it's a good excuse for you to experiment when you have a few extra minutes for lunch.
Ham, Brie, Marmalade and Arugula Pressed Sandwich
rustic country bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick
Dijon mustard (or more, if you prefer)
brie, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 6 slices)
sliced cooked ham (about 8 slices)
Freshly ground pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
Spread two slices of bread with 1 teaspoon mustard each. Layer each piece of bread with 3 slices of Brie, 4 slices ham, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Spread the each of the remaining slices of bread with 1 tablespoon of marmalade and place each slice marmalade-side-down on top of the sandwich.
Brush both sides of each sandwich with olive oil. Set the sandwiches in a panini grill set on High and cook until bread is golden brown and cheese has melted, about 5 minutes (depending on your machine). When finished cooking, remove the tops of each sandwich and lay on 1/4 cup arugula on top. Smush bread back down on top of arugula, cut in half, and serve warm.
Stovetop Sandwiches: Using a cast-iron pan or your favorite heavy-duty skillet, cook sandwich 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
(Images: Megan Gordon)