A Grilled Apple Panini to Banish Winter’s Bite
By the middle of winter, you know who your friends are. The spouse who picked up burritos on the way home from work. The neighbor who shoveled the driveway when you were out of town. The friend who will meet you for coffee even when it’s too cold to cross the street. The purring cat on your lap who keeps you from going over the edge when you start feeling like you are in The Shining.
One food is always there for me. My veggie drawer always holds a few apples. They can languish there for weeks, they don’t need careful shepherding to ripeness. Unlike the delicate pear or finicky peach, they aren’t hiding weird mealy spots, or pretending to be rock hard when they are actually ready to go. No worries that they might be rotten to the core if I don’t catch them on the right day.
They have my back, so to speak.
I keep a bag of small, inexpensive apples just for juicing. Adding an apple to my juice is a great way to sweeten it just a little, and add healthy antioxidants. Apples add crunch to salads and star in some of my favorite dishes.
Check out this juice from my book, Juice It!, the Super Protector, and enter to win a cookbook!
But now and then, I like to play them up a little differently. Like in this Grilled Apple Panini. I know, in Italian, a singular sandwich is a “panino.” So I’m making little panino sliders that are plural in the end.
I’ve got a panini grill. Now, you might think that a panini grill is only for making grilled cheese sandwiches, but really, you can grill veggies, fruits, and anything that needs a little two-sided heat. It’s a handy, portable tool when you cater or do cooking demonstrations out in the field. It’s especially useful when when you want to treat veggies and fruits to a little pre-cooking, then just slip them into a toasted sandwich. Try this with apples, and think about how you can do it with onions, zucchini, all sorts of veggies to go inside the panini itself, using the grill for more than just the final toasting.
Around this time of year, you are looking for a little something different, to break you out of your personal food rut. We all do it- whether you default to bean soup or burritos on the way home from work. So grab some apples and make a fun sandwich with them.
These petite slider-style treats can quell the hunger of the after-school crowd, or even be served at your festive brunch. You can even take the panini grill along to a friend’s house and grill hot, chocolatey, apple sandwiches there.
It couldn’t be easier, I just melted some very dark chocolate and stirred it into some chunky almond butter, but you could just grind almonds in the food processor, too. Peanut butter would be delicious, or if you want to drop the chocolate and go savory, your favorite non-cheese or cheese would pair well with the apples, too.
Grilled Apple, Chocolate Almond Panini
4 plump dinner rolls ( I used a sunflower whole wheat, you can use GF, whatever you prefer)
1 ounce dark chocolate
1/4 cup almond butter
2 large apples, cored and sliced
canola oil for the grill
Prep the dinner rolls by halving them, reserve. Melt the chocolate and stir into the almond butter.
Preheat the grill on high. When the light goes off, brush the grates with oil and place the sliced apples on the hot plates. Close the grill and press lightly. Grill for a couple of minutes, open and check for markings. When the apples have brown stripes and are tender, take them off with tongs or a plastic spatula.
Wipe the plates with a bunched up terry kitchen towel, be careful not to burn yourself. Alternatively, you can do this part ahead, let the plates cool, and clean them beofer making the sandwiches.
Heat the grill again, and toast the insides of the bun slices, leaving it open, for just a minute. Spread the almond butter on the buns, fill with apples, put the tops on and then lightly oil the grate before putting them in. Press the grill closed lightly.
Grill for about 4 minutes, to get a nice toast and warm the nut butter. Serve hot.