Remember when life used to be simple and unadulterated? When there was plenty of time to breathe in and to enjoy its every moment? To me, pure, joyful life means one thing: summer. Still, my favorite season is far and away, and the ongoing cold weather has made me sluggish and has drained me of energy. What better way for a foodie to escape the cold than to enjoy a fiery Spain-inspired panino? Sandwiches and escapism – that’s the name of my game, as of late. 🙂
Last week I went to the grocery store to tame my appetite for bright, summery dishes and came out with manchego cheese. Sometimes, weekly sales lead to the greatest discoveries!
With its mild, slightly salty flavor and endearing texture, manchego is vastly underrated – and I thought it was time for me to reconsider its fate. I paired the manchego with imported jamón serrano and hot chorizo for a spicy flavor kick, and to freshen it up I added a handful of red and green salad leaves.
I thought these flavors would go really well with our all-time favorite roast red pepper dip. I roasted one red bell pepper, skinned it and washed it well, and then I added sour cream and salt and pepper to taste. Sweet, flavorful, delicious!
I used a sandwich bun which I cut in half. I spread about a third of the roast red pepper dip on the inside of the half bun which made up the bottom of the panino. I then put the salad leaves on top of the dip.
I added the sliced manchego cheese…
… and then placed the jamón serrano on top of the cheese. Just look at that gorgeous pink, almost translucent color!
I spread about a teaspoon of the roast red pepper dip evenly on the ham. I just couldn’t help it: We like this roast pepper dip so much!
I put the sliced chorizo on top of the dip…
… and finished off with halved pitted black olives and with the other half bun, whose inside had been smeared with roast pepper dip.
Now, all that was left for me to do was to put the panino on the preheated grill to cook for about 30 seconds. I was looking for the bread to turn golden-brown and to get nice grill marks all over it. Once this was accomplished, I took the panino off the grill, cut it in half and served it with extra roast pepper dip on the side.
And voilà, light dinner for myself and my summer aficionado husband was ready!
I really like how the salad leaves and the olives cut through the richness of the ham&cheese decadent notes in this panino. Moreover, the roast pepper dip provides a sweet earthiness which complements the manchego very well. I think you can add red pepper flakes to the roast pepper dip to make it spicier. Having said this, we like it how it is now, and we have found the heat of the chorizo just about enough to satisfy our appetite for spiciness.
Either spiced up or toned down, this panino can do no wrong on our dinner table – and I hope you like it too 🙂