Things in my life that I am currently excited about:
1. New seasons of Top Chef Masters and Glee! My Tivo is ready to go.
2. The impending end of grad school. Finals coming up and one more summer class before I’m finished with school forever!
3. Wedding season. Lots of new invites and save the dates gracing our fridge this week.
4. This sandwich.
I have never been a sandwich person. There were about 8,000 sandwich shops within a mile radius when I was in college, but I never found one I couldn’t live without. I’m from Philadelphia, you know. We handle sandwiches a little differently.
So it surprised me when I flagged Big Girls, Small Kitchen’s Prosciutto and Fontina Panini with Arugula Pesto and Pickled Shallots (that’s a mouthful). I learned about the Quarter Life Cooks the same way you all probably did, by watching Phoebe on The Barefoot Contessa. But that’s not where their fame and glory end. This particular sandwich was featured on Food52, the brainchild of food writer Amanda Hesser.
Let me tell you why this sandwich was featured. Because it made me a sandwich person. You get a little bit of everything in each bite, and though this contains a lot of ingredients, each stands on its own and speaks for itself. We’ll begin with the arugula pesto. Milder than basil, it makes a fresh, perfect spread on a good loaf of ciabatta. Next would be the shallots. What a nice complement to the flavors of sandwich, and not a bad crunch either. Combine that with prosciutto and dreamy, creamy Fontina cheese and it all just works. The perfect dinner for those 90 degree April nights that I can’t escape from.
Their recipe makes enough to use the whole loaf of ciabatta. How many it will feed depends on how hungry your friends are.
Prosciutto and Fontina Panini with Arugula Pesto and Pickled Shallots
*adapted from Big Girls, Small Kitchen
- 1/4 C toasted pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 C arugula
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/4 C evoo
- 1/4 C parmesan cheese
- 1 T butter
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 1/3 lb prosciutto (about 10 slices)
- 1/3 lb fontina cheese, thinly sliced
- 1 loaf ciabatta, sliced lengthwise
To make the pesto, pulse the pine nuts, garlic, arugula, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt in the bowl of a food processor until combined. Stream evoo in the feed tube until the pesto is the consistency you like. Stir in the parmesan.
Saute the shallot slices in the butter until they get brown and a little crispy. Proceed to think twice about ever buying French’s fried onions again.
Spread the pesto over the cut sides of the bread. Layer the bottom with cheese and prosciutto and the top with the shallots.
Smush the sandwiches into a panini press. Don’t have one? Grill them. You could even cook this like a grilled cheese in a skillet and top it with a heavy skillet or Dutch Oven to weight it down. You have options. Don’t wait to make this one.
Slice the sandwich with a serrated knife.