A simple sandwich for a lazy Sunday

Other than sifting through the weekly musical releases, downloads and in-studio performances, today is not going to see much activity on my part. Chores were completed before the weekend (a rarity). Exercise is not looking promising since I’ve already had my shower.  I’ve had a nap too, may take another. Yes, its a Sunday so what would be ideal to eat for such a slack arse day? Some might scream delivery, but I don’t do delivery. Remember, I cook.

I think a simple sandwich is in order, care of Rachel Ray:


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, cracked away from skin
8 slices crusty Italian bread
1 pound smoked fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
8 basil leaves, torn


Heat a grill pan over medium low to medium heat. Heat oil and garlic in a small pot over low heat. Brush 4 slices of the bread with garlic oil on 1 side. Place garlic oil side down on the grill. Top with sliced cheese, tomato and basil. Place another slice of bread on top of each sandwich. Brush sandwiches with garlic oil. Press sandwiches with heavy skillet or a brick covered with tin foil. Toast sandwiches on both sides to melt cheese.

Pretty simple, huh? Almost, but it depends on how you address the last sentence in the directions… the one about toasting. Before I graciously received my Panini press (thanks Scott and Wendy), I tried a variation on the heavy skillet/brick method. I used two pans and one brick. It does work. Its a Alton Brown inspiration in the true spirit of MacGyver.

BUT, if you have a Panini press use it. As you can see from the picture, I’m a lazy Panini press user i.e. I cover each side of the press with aluminum foil coated with a light blast of cooking spray. Why? Easy clean-up. Simply remove the foil and discard.  Do I still get the classic grill marks?  Absolutely, but if there was ever a Mr./Miss Panini, they are probably rolling in their grave.

As for the ingredients and directions, I peel and crush the clove of garlic. BE SURE to heat the oil over low heat. You’re not trying to cook the garlic, only infuse the olive oil with garlic flavor. For tomatoes, I recommend Romas (which these are not; HT was out).  The bread is the HT in-store-baked brand. I opt for either whole wheat or nine-grain, depending which is available. The choice of mozzarella is yours, but this it one instance where purchasing the cheaper block (vs. the floating balls) pays off. It makes slicing a wedge very easy.

For assemblage, what’s pictured is not how to do it. Why? Because when you bring the two faces together either the tomatoes or the basil is going to slip out.  Once you’ve coated the inside faces of the bread with the olive oil (I spoon instead of brushing), the order should be: tomatoes (with a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper), basil (lots and lots and lots), the cheese slice and the closing slice of bread. Bottom line: assemble the sandwich on one side and not two; a very rookie mistake.

This is going to sound silly, but I generally leave the sandwich in the press until I hear the first sizzle of the cheese hit the grill surface.  Its not a perfect guide, but its often pretty accurate.  What you are really seeking is thoroughly melted cheese and those classic grill marks.

I generally eat two sandwiches, but three is not out of the question.

~ by Genevieve on 2010.01.24.

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