One of the questions that pops up in my posts rather often is: What to do with leftover food? I’m always interested in repurposing food that is still safe to eat, and the thought of throwing it away does not sit well with me at all. I did some thinking and came to the conclusion that this must be a personality trait I inherited from my parents and my aunt. They were thrifty and very resourceful, and with good reason: the times were hard and food was scarce, and so they cherished every bit of it, and repurposed it with a passion.
I faced a new “leftover challenge” last week, when I realized I still had some roasted red peppers in the fridge. The roasted red pepper salad was an element of my 4th of July menu, and it looked like I had made a little too much of it. I just couldn’t bear the thought of throwing away the peppers. After all, how could anyone throw away such ruby red beauties, lovingly seasoned with salt and lavishly bathed in a vinaigrette?
Instead, I decided to use the peppers to make a panino, along with some American cheese and hot peppers (more leftovers from the 4th of July menu) and a few slices of fresh Polish ham. I used ciabatta bread because I like its crunchy texture, plus it was the only bread that was available to me at that particular moment. You can, of course, use any bread you like.
2 slices ciabatta
4 slices Polish ham
4 slices yellow American cheese
1 roasted red pepper which has been cleaned, cut in half, seasoned with salt, and “bathed” for about one hour in a simple vinaigrette (3 parts vegetable oil and 1 part white wine vinegar)
2 tsp hot peppers from a jar
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Brush the bread with olive oil. Cut the slices of cheese in half and put four halves on each slice of bread. Make rolls of Polish ham and put two rolls on top of the cheese on each slice of bread. Gently pat dry the roasted pepper with a paper towel, then add it on top of the ham, on the bread that is going to form the basis of the panino. Add the hot peppers on top of the roasted red pepper. Place the other slice of bread and its accompanying ingredients on top of the first slice. Grill the panino for about 1 minute, or until the bread is golden-brown.
This is how the entire preparation process looks like:
Cut the panino in half and serve it.
This panino turned out light and refreshing – just what we needed after a rather substantial 4th of July menu. I really liked how the vinaigrette in the roasted red pepper cut through the richness of the American cheese. Meanwhile, the Polish ham delivered just the right amount of “meatiness,” and the hot peppers were there to bring out the heat in the panino, and to elevate it to another level.
I had a great time repurposing my roasted red pepper salad: the preparation of the panino did not take a lot of time, other leftover ingredients happily came to the rescue, and the end result was well worth it. My beloved roasted red peppers had not lost their magic, and they made my culinary experiment a success. 🙂