Fall is one of my favorite seasons for eating. I love all the winter squashes, greens, and especially the pears. Pears are a special treat. Since they have to be picked when they are hard, it’s always a gamble about eating them at the perfect firmness. You should put your pears in a brown paper bag to help them ripen faster. Don’t be like me and forget then until they are only good for smoothies! With the weather getting a little cooler, a hot sandwich was just what I wanted for dinner. I had some sandwich bread from my local artisan bakery, Guglhupf’s. They have some amazing products, the best cheese danish I have ever tasted, and soft perfect bretzel rolls. If you find yourself in Durham, NC, you have to visit.
I bought some fresh mozzarella cheese at the farmer’s market this weekend that I was itching to use. I got it from the wonderful cheese makers at Chapel Hill Creamery. They have even started making paneer, in addition to their normal offerings. I visited their farm on the spring farm tour, and it was amazing to meet the cows, and see the process of making the cheese starting with the milking. I really feel good about how they treat the animals, and I think you can taste that in their cheese.
The pears were grown locally, even though I got them from Whole Foods. I was too late to the market on Saturday to snag any. But I feel good about buying local produce, no matter where I get it!
Pear Panini – for 2
4 slices good bread
about 1/2 small ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
a handful of arugula (rocket)
white truffle oil
olive oil, for the outside of the sandwich – optional
Use a panini pan if you have one. As an alternative, you can use a pan and a heavy skillet that will fit inside it to press the sandwich or you could use a grill and heavy object of your choice.
Heat your pan on medium heat while you prepare the ingredients.
Spray a little olive oil on the sides of the bread to be toasted. My panini pan is perfect for 2 sandwiches, but if yours is smaller make one at a time.
Place bread oiled side down on the pan, top with mozzarella, a small bit of white truffle oil (a little goes a long way), pear slices, more mozzarella, some rocket, and then top with the other slice of bread oiled side up.
Put the press on top (or a heavy pan), toast until the cheese is melting and it’s toasted the way you like it. Take a spatula, flip it, and put the press on top again. It always seems like the second side cooks faster than the first, so you should check it more often. Once the other side is the way you like it, remove and cut in half.
If you have the time serve with some roasted butternut squash and coleslaw made from Swiss Chard.
Enjoy! The white truffle oil really takes the sandwich to another level, so use it if you can. A bottle is expensive, but lasts a very long time. It’s also great on pizza.