I hardly ever think of panini recipes in advance. Most of the time, ideas come in the spur of the moment – and upon opening the fridge and making a quick inventory of whatever is in there and can be used. After all, I think this is one of the purposes of panini: to bring wholesomeness and flavor to one’s dinner table without being overly complicated to assemble.
This was the case with this pastrami panino. My local grocery store was running a special on deli pastrami, and I bought a lot because we love it. Truth is, I have always found pastrami very appealing. Could it be that I’m taken by the distinctive mixture of spices which define this meat? Or perhaps it’s the delicate texture of the beef, laboriously brined and skillfully smoked, the one that fascinates me? In any case, once I had this quality meat in my fridge, coming up with a panini recipe was no longer a problem. Pastrami and a few other ingredients were there to save the day – and to provide a light and tasty dinner.
1/2 lb pastrami
4 thick slices (around 1/3 lb) mild cheddar
1/2 cucumber, sliced
Handful of sliced red onion
Preheat the grill to 400F.
Cut the cheese slices in half. Cut the bread in half lengthwise. Add half of the cheese on on side. Also add a generous layer of pastrami on top of the cheese, as seen below:
Add a layer of sliced cucumber, then a layer of sliced red onion – these two raw vegetables will give texture and freshness to the panino, and will complement the protein elements of this dish. Then, add another layer of pastrami, and finish off with the remaining cheese. Grill the panino for 3 minutes, and serve it with a dip of your choice.
After I made this panino I realized that I could have spread yellow mustard on the bread to add another dimension of flavor, which in theory would have worked well with the aromatic spiciness of the pastrami. I’ll try that next time – and I’ll report back.