One of the best ways to cut back on wasted food is to use it in a new recipe before it goes bad. You will notice in the recipes below that I cooked several dinners in the past few weeks and, of course, we had leftovers. I don’t mind meatloaf reheated once or twice, but not more than that. Certainly, I can freeze meatloaf but there are more interesting things I can do with it, as well as leftover pork and chicken. Do you have a leftover recipe makeover?
Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Wine Sauce
Becomes Pork Stroganoff
- 3 cups chopped leftover Pork Tenderloin in Mushroom Wine Sauce (see recipe link here)
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 8 oz wide noodles
Cook the noodles in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and place the noodles on a medium serving platter.
Heat the leftover pork in a small skillet over medium low heat. Slowly stir in the sour cream.
Pour the meat mixture over the noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Italian Style Meatloaf
Becomes Meatloaf Panini
Serve these sandwiches with oven baked onion rings, pickles and a salad for dinner.
- 4 slices sandwich bread
- 2 slices leftover Italian Style Meatloaf (see recipe link here)
- 2 tablespoons spicy Italian peppers, chopped
- 4 slices Provolone cheese
- Olive oil
Layer 2 of the bread slices in the following way: a slice of cheese, a slice of meatloaf, 1 tablespoon of chopped peppers and a slice of cheese. on top of the each meatloaf slice.
Top with the remaining bread. Brush the bread with olive oil.
Warm up a large skillet over medium heat or heat a Panini maker. Place both sandwiches, oiled side down, in skillet or on the Panini press. Oil the bread on the top.
Close the Panini press and follow the directions for your machine.
If using a skillet, cook the sandwich for a few minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown.
Turn the sandwiches over and press down firmly with a spatula on the top of the bread to compress the sandwiches. Cook until golden brown.
Grilled Chicken Breasts
Becomes Leftover Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad and Small Batch Chicken Broth
Being a frugal Italian cook, nothing gets wasted in my kitchen. The chicken breasts I grilled last week were large, so we did not eat all the chicken. I removed the chicken that was left from the bones and reserved it for the Caesar Salad recipe. I also find that some recipes call for a small amount of chicken broth. The breast bones that were left can solve that need.
Small Batch Chicken Broth
- 2 leftover chicken breast bones
- 1/4 of a medium onion
- Celery top
- Small carrot
- Small garlic clove
- 1 bay leaf
- Few peppercorns
Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cover the ingredients with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for one hour.
Strain the broth and pour into half cup containers. Freeze for future use.
Leftover Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
- Leftover chicken cut into cubes
- 1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and finely chopped
- 1 cup croutons
- Shaved Parmesan cheese
- Fresh Cracked Pepper
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Combine the anchovy paste, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, garlic and Worcestershire sauce to a small bowl and stir together.
Gradually whisk in the olive oil, whisking until the dressing is emulsified.
Place the chopped lettuce in a bowl and toss it with the dressing, cubed chicken and croutons. Add shaved Parmesan and fresh black pepper. Toss and serve.
Parma is a province in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Parma is famous for its Prosciutto di Parma. The whole area is renowned for its sausage production, as well as for Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and some kinds of pasta like gnocchi di patate, cappelletti (or anolini) in brodo and tortelli with different stuffings (potatoes, pumpkin, mushrooms or chestnuts). Prosciutto or Italian ham is an Italian dry-cured ham that is thinly sliced and served uncooked. This style is called prosciutto crudo in Italian and is distinguished from cooked ham, prosciutto cotto.
There’s a reason why these foods developed in the Emilia region. It’s one of the few areas of Italy that isn’t mountainous, so there are plains and pasture. The farmers of the region were able to raise cows and therefore produce milk and with milk came butter, cream and cheese. Add ham to the dairy ingredients and you have the central core of the region’s cuisine.
Parma is also home to one of Italy’s longest established pasta factories, Barilla. The Barilla Center for the Propagation of Gastronomy has several state-of-the-art kitchens for demonstrations and a large auditorium for lectures, as well as a huge library of books on food and cooking, some as early as the 15th Century.
Prosciutto is made from either a pig’s or a wild boar’s hind leg or thigh. Prosciutto may also be made using the hind leg of other animals, in which case the name of the animal is included in the name of the product, for example “prosciutto cotto d’agnello” (“lamb prosciutto”).
The process of making prosciutto can take from nine months to two years, depending on the size of the ham. First, the ham is cleaned, salted and set aside for about two months. During this time, the ham is pressed, gradually and carefully, so as to avoid breaking the bone and to drain it of all liquid. Next, it is washed several times to remove the salt and is hung in a dark, well-ventilated area. The surrounding air is important to the final quality of the ham and the best results are obtained in a cold climate. The ham is then left until thoroughly dry. The time this takes varies, depending on the local climate and size of the ham. When the ham is completely dry, it is hung to air, either at room temperature or in a controlled environment, for up to 18 months.
Prosciutto is sometimes cured with nitrites (either sodium or potassium), which are generally used in other hams to produce the desired rosy color and unique flavor, but only sea salt is allowed in Protected Designation of Origin hams.
Under the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union (EU), certain well-established meat products are covered by a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). The two famous types of Italian prosciutto are: prosciutto crudo di Parma, from Parma and prosciutto crudo di San Daniele, from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Prosciutto di Parma has a slightly nutty flavor from the Parmigiano Reggiano whey that is sometimes added to the pigs’ diet. The prosciutto di San Daniele is darker in color and sweeter in flavor.
Sliced prosciutto crudo in Italian cuisine is often served as an antipasto, wrapped around grissini or melon. It is also eaten as accompaniment to cooked spring vegetables, such as asparagus or peas. It may be included in a simple pasta sauce made with cream or in a dish of tagliatelle with vegetables. It is used in stuffings for meats, as a wrap around veal or chicken, in a filled bread or as a pizza topping. Saltimbocca is an Italian veal dish, where thin slices of veal are topped with a sage leaf before being wrapped in prosciutto and then pan-fried. Prosciutto is often served in sandwiches and sometimes in a variation of the Caprese salad with basil, tomato and fresh mozzarella.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is a hard, granular cheese. The name “Parmesan” is often used generically for various versions of this cheese. It is named after the producing areas, which comprise the Provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Modena (all in Emilia-Romagna) and Mantua (in Lombardy). Under Italian law, only cheese produced in these provinces may be labelled “Parmigiano-Reggiano”, and European law classifies the name as a protected designation of origin. According to legend, Parmigiano-Reggiano was created during the Middle Ages in Bibbiano, in the province of Reggio Emilia. Its production soon spread to the Parma and Modena areas. Historical documents show that in the 13th and 14th centuries, Parmigiano was already very similar to the product produced today, which suggests its origins can be traced to an even earlier time.
Traditionally, cows have to be fed only on grass or hay, producing grass-fed milk. Only natural whey culture is allowed as a starter, together with calf rennet. The only additive allowed is salt, which the cheese absorbs while being submerged for 20 days in brine tanks saturated with Mediterranean sea salt. The product is aged an average of two years and cheese is produced daily. Parmigiano-Reggiano is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. Whole milk from the morning milking is mixed with naturally skimmed milk (which is made by keeping milk in large shallow tanks to allow the cream to separate) of the previous evening’s milking, resulting in a part skim mixture. This mixture is pumped into copper-lined vats.
Starter whey is added and the temperature is raised to 33–35 °C (91–95 °F). Calf rennet is then added and the mixture is left to curdle for 10–12 minutes. The curd is then broken up mechanically into small pieces and the temperature is raised to 55 °C (131 °F) with careful control by the cheese-maker. The curd is left to settle for 45–60 minutes. The compacted curd is collected in a piece of muslin before being divided in two and placed in molds. The remaining whey in the vat is traditionally used to feed the pigs from which “Prosciutto di Parma” is produced.
The cheese is put into a stainless steel, round form that is pulled tight with a spring-powered buckle so the cheese retains its wheel shape. After a day or two, the buckle is released and a plastic belt, imprinted numerous times with the Parmigiano-Reggiano name, the plant’s number and the month and year of production is put around the cheese and the metal form is buckled tight again. The imprints take hold on the rind of the cheese in about a day and the wheel is then put into a brine bath to absorb salt for 20–25 days. After brining, the wheels are then transferred to the aging rooms in the plant for 12 months. Each cheese is placed on wooden shelves and the cheese and the shelves are cleaned manually or robotically every seven days. The cheese is also turned at this time.
At 12 months, the Consorzio Parmigiano-Reggiano inspects every wheel. The cheese is tested by a master grader who taps each wheel to identify undesirable cracks and voids within the wheel. Wheels that pass the test are then heat branded on the rind with the Consorzio’s logo. Those that do not pass the test used to have their rinds marked with lines or crosses all the way around to inform consumers that they are not getting top-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano; more recent practices simply have these lesser rinds stripped of all markings. The average Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel is about 18–24 cm (7–9 in) high, 40–45 cm (16–18 in) in diameter and weighs 38 kg (84 lb).
Parmigiano-Reggiano is commonly grated over pasta dishes, stirred into soups and risottos or eaten sliced as an appetizer. It is often shaved over other dishes like salads. Slivers and chunks of the hardest parts of the crust are sometimes simmered in soup.
Prosciutto Parmesan Pasta
- 8 ounces fresh fettuccine pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 pound prosciutto, sliced thin
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain.
Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the prosciutto in the skillet over medium heat until just brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the prosciutto from the skillet and set the prosciutto aside on paper towels. Drain the skillet of any remaining fat.
Add the cream the skillet and heat on low. Slowly stir in 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese in small amounts. When all the cheese has been melted, stir in the peas and prosciutto.
Allow to heat for 2 minutes more. Add the drained pasta and toss lightly. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
Cheese and Prosciutto Panini
- 4 whole slices Italian bread
- 1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 4 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- Unsalted butter
Cover two slices of the bread with a layer of grated cheese. Generously grind black pepper over the top. Place two slices of Prosciutto di Parma over the cheese. Place the remaining slices of bread on top.
Cook in a panini maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions or:
In a large frying, add enough butter to provide a generous covering, about 2 tablespoons. Heat the butter over medium-low heat until foamy.
Add the cheese sandwiches, pressing them onto the pan; slowly fry, regulating the heat so the butter does not burn.
Once light brown, turn the sandwiches over and press down with a spatula to compress slightly. Brown the other side.
When done, transfer the sandwiches to a paper towel to drain. Cut in half diagonally and serve.
- 1 pound prepared pizza dough, at room temperature
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- Cornmeal, for dusting
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 cups baby arugula
- 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
- Shaved Parmesan cheese, for topping
Place a pizza stone or an upside-down baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch round.
Transfer the round to a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel or another upside-down baking sheet; slide the dough onto the hot pizza stone or baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes.
Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl with the garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the pizza from the oven, brush with the olive oil mixture and top with the ricotta and mozzarella.
Return the pizza to the oven; bake until the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 6 more minutes. Remove from the oven.
Toss the arugula and shallot in a large bowl with the lemon juice, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Top the baked pizza with the arugula salad, prosciutto and shaved parmesan cheese. Cut into slices and serve.
So do I. There are many possibilities for using up this holiday classic. I rarely make baked ham – only when I have company and I know they like it. This year, I made Italian Baked Ham for Easter dinner. You can see the recipe here. I had plenty of leftovers to make sandwiches during the week before my visitors went home. My grandson also likes to just snack on ham. I also had plenty of leftover ham to make the following three meals that we will have in the upcoming week.
Ham and Potato Gratin
I served this with a green vegetable.
- 3 large potatoes or 1 lb, peeled and sliced very thin
- 2 cups chopped ham
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 3 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon pepper sauce (Tabasco)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups evaporated milk
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan heat 1 tablespoon butter and saute the onion and garlic until they are golden. Remove to a small bowl.
In the same saucepan melt the remaining butter on medium heat. Add the flour to it and stir constantly with a whisk for about 2-3 mins until the roux is well toasted.
Slowly add the milk, whisking until smooth. Add the salt, black pepper and pepper sauce. Continue mixing until bubbly and thickened.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the grated cheese. Whisk until the cheese is completely melted.
Coat a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Layer 1/3 of the sliced potatoes on the bottom of the dish; top with 1/2 the ham, then 1/2 the onion mixture and half the parsley. Drizzle on 1/3 of the cheese sauce, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of paprika.
Make another layer with 1/3 of the sliced potatoes, the remaining onion mixture, parsley and ham. Drizzle on 1/3 of the cheese sauce, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon paprika.
Top with the rest of the potato, cheese sauce and the remaining paprika.
Bake covered with foil for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Allow the gratin to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Split Pea Soup
This soup is hearty enough for dinner with some good bread, especially pumpernickel.
- 2 1/4 cups dried split peas
- 2 quarts good quality vegetable broth or water
- Leftover ham bone
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 potatoes, diced
In a large stock pot, cover peas with 2 quarts cold water and soak overnight. Drain and rinse. Return the peas to the stock pot and add the broth, ham bone, onions, garlic, pepper, thyme and bay leaves. Cover, bring to boil and then simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Remove the bone; cut off the meat, dice and return the meat to the soup. Add the salt, celery, carrots and potatoes. Cook slowly, uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender Remove the bay leaves before serving.
Ham Reuben Panini
Adding a salad makes this a complete meal.
For each sandwich you will need:
- 2 thick slices sourdough bread
- 4 oz leftover, thinly sliced baked ham
- 2 oz sauerkraut, drained
- 2 slices swiss or provolone cheese
- Russian Dressing, recipe below
- Pickles, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sprinkle the ham with a little water, wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and steam it in the oven for about 15 minutes.
Take the ham out of the oven and unwrap it. Spread each slice of bread with Russian dressing. Layer one slice of bread of the slices of ham, sauerkraut and slices of cheese, then top the sandwich with the remaining slice of bread (dressing-side down).
Brush the bread with a little olive oil. Place the sandwiches in a panini press and cook according to directions
Or cook on a stove top pan
Put the sandwiches in the pans and weight them with a lid or heat proof bowl topped with something heavy. Cook until the first sides are crisp and golden about 7 minutes then turn the sandwiches. Cook until the second sides are also well toasted and the cheese is melted. Lift the sandwich onto a cutting board. Cut each in half diagonally and serve with pickles.
- 3/4 cups light mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 teaspoons chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced sweet onion
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced dill pickle
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon grated horseradish
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Mix well and refrigerate until needed.
Yesterday we roasted chicken and today we have leftovers. So what can you do with the leftovers?
It makes sense for us to get smarter about fully using the food that we purchase. And that means getting smarter about leftovers.
Even a small amount of leftover roast chicken can easily become another meal and there are numerous ways to do this without being boring. With leftover chicken in the refrigerator you can make convenient and versatile weeknight dinners,
Leftover chicken can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for three to four days, and in the freezer for about four months. Just remember to plan your leftover meals ahead so that when you’re at the market, you can pick up the ingredients you’ll need.
How much meat from a 6-lb. roasting chicken?
|1 whole chicken||7 cups|
|1/2 chicken||3-1/2 cups|
|1 breast||1 cup|
|1 leg (thigh and drumstick)||1 cup|
Make A Salad
Roasted Chicken and Romaine Salad
For 4 servings
- 1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Leftover roast chicken (about 6 ounces per serving), sliced thin
- 3 hearts of romaine, trimmed and torn into pieces
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 slices country-style white bread, each about ¾ inch thick
- Additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and black pepper for garnish
Whisk the dressing ingredients until smooth.
Brush the bread slices with olive oil and toast on both sides in the broiler until lightly brown. Cut the bread into small cubes to make croutons.
Cut the chicken into thin slices and cut the bread into croutons. Place the romaine on serving plates and top with chicken and croutons. Serve right away with the dressing on the side.
Mix the romaine, chicken and croutons in a large salad bowl. Add the dressing and gently toss.
Divide the salad onto 4 serving plates and garnish with black pepper and cheese.
Make Chicken Soup
To make the broth:
After you cut all the meat off the chicken, use the bones to make broth. Place the bones in a large soup pot and add 4 quarts of water.Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 1 hour.
Place a colander or strainer over a large bowl. Pour the contents of the pot into it. Let the mixture cool. Pick through the bones and remove any meat; discard skin and bones. Add the meat to the broth; cover and set aside.
To make the soup:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 7 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Additional cooked chicken and noodles, optional
Add the oil to the soup pot and heat over low heat. Add the onions. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the mushrooms, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Add the salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and parsley. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more or until the carrots and celery are almost softened.
Add the broth and chicken mixture to the vegetables in the soup pot. Taste for seasoning and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add cooked noodles and extra cooked chicken, if desired.
Make A Pasta Dish
Chicken Lasagna Rolls
- 6 dried lasagna noodles
- One 8 ounce package reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
- 1 ½ cups chopped cooked chicken
- 1/2 of a 10 ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained (1 cup)
- 1/2 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, drained and chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup marinara pasta sauce
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain noodles and cut each noodle in half crosswise; set aside.
For the cheese sauce:
In a medium mixing bowl beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add milk, beating until smooth. Stir in Romano cheese and chives.
For the filling:
In a medium bowl stir together 1/2 cup of the white sauce, the chicken, broccoli, roasted red peppers and black pepper. Place about 1/4 cup of the filling at an end of each cooked noodle and roll. Arrange rolls, seam sides down, in the prepared baking dish.
Spoon the remaining white sauce over the rolls. Top each roll with some marinara sauce. Cover with foil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until heated through.
Make A Sandwich
This sandwich can also be grilled in a panini press. You can also add a slice of your favorite cheese to each sandwich.
Chicken Focaccia Sandwich
- One round 8 inch tomato flavored focaccia bread or sourdough bread
- 1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
- 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups sliced roasted chicken
- ½ cup roasted red sweet peppers, drained and cut into strips
Using a long serrated knife, cut bread in half horizontally. Spread cut sides of the bread halves with mayonnaise..
Layer basil leaves, chicken and roasted sweet peppers between bread halves. Cut into wedges.
Roasted Chicken Stuffed Zucchini
Yield: 2 halves
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ cup finely diced onion
- 2 tablespoons red bell pepper, diced
- ¼ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small minced garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or parsley
- ½ cup leftover roast chicken, chopped
- Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut both ends off the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out most of the inner flesh, taking care to leave the shells (zucchini skin) intact. Chop the zucchini flesh.
Season the shells with sea salt and cracked black pepper and place on a foil lined baking sheet or in a glass baking dish that has been sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.
Add the oil to a skillet and heat on medium. Add the onion and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the bell pepper to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chopped zucchini flesh, tomatoes and basil. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the tomato starts to soften. Mix in the cooked chicken pieces to reheat and season everything to taste with sea salt, cracked black pepper, crushed red pepper and lemon juice.
Scoop the filling equally into each zucchini shell and sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the zucchini is fork tender.
Although the first U.S. reference to panini dates to 1956 and a precursor appeared in a 16th-century Italian cookbook, panini sandwiches became trendy in Milanese bars, called paninoteche, in the 1970s, when office workers were looking for quick lunch choices. Trendy U.S. restaurants, particularly in New York, began selling the sandwiches, whose popularity then spread to other U.S. cities, each producing distinctive variations of of the sandwich.
Food historians generally agree, panini, as we know them today, originated in the sandwich shops of Italy, perhaps as early as the 1960s. A survey of newspaper articles confirms that the panini sandwich caught the American consumers attention in the mid-1970s. As time progressed, panini evolved from upscale fare to trendy sandwiches for everyone.
In many English-speaking countries, a panino (Italian pronunciation: [paˈniːno] from the Italian, meaning “small bread, bread roll”) is a grilled sandwich made from bread other than sliced bread. The plural form of “panino” in Italian is panini. Examples of the bread types used for panini are ciabatta, foccacia and Italian baguettes. The bread is cut horizontally and filled with deli ingredients or other foods and then pressed in a grill. There is widespread availability and use of sandwich presses, often known as “panini presses” or “toasted sandwich makers.”
In Italy classic filling combinations are:
mozzarella, tomato (plus arugula and/or prosciutto);
prosciutto and fontina cheese
prosciutto, chese and olive tapenade;
bresaola, goat cheese or stracchino (plus lettuce and/or tomato);
speck (smoked cured prosciutto from Tyrol), arugula and cheese
grilled vegetables and cheese.
When Italian panini are offered outside of Italy, they tend to differ quite substantially. The biggest no-no’s are the use of:
More than one kind of meat (this is very unlikely in Italy);
Large amounts of meat (in Italy, more than a few slices would be considered overpowering);
Too many ingredients (in Italy, it’s never more than 3 or 4 in total);
Any kind of dressing (oil and vinegar are for salads, not for sandwiches);
Honey-mustard, barbecue sauce, spicy mayo (since they don’t exist in Italy).
Do you know who invented the sandwich press?
Thomas Edison. Before sandwich grills, people had to toast each slice of bread individually using an electric toaster or a griddle. The sandwich grill made it possible to brown two slices of bread at the same time. Unfortunately, Edison’s novel approach to sandwich-making didn’t get much attention from home cooks. It was discontinued in the early 1930s, according to the museum at Thomas Edison’s winter estate in Fort Myers, FL, where the celebrated scientist’s sandwich grill is on display. Edison’s contribution to the world of grilled sandwiches was entirely forgotten by the time Breville came out with its panini press in 1974.
A panini press, which is essentially a two-sided grill, used to grill a sandwich. This method may also be accomplished by placing the sandwich on a grill, pressing down firmly with a spatula, then turning the sandwich over and repeating the process. Depending on your preference, the outsides of the bread may or may not be buttered or brushed with extra virgin olive oil to give it a crisp texture.
Thinly sliced grilled chicken, turkey and roast beef can also make delicious panini. The meat needs to be cooked before being placed in the sandwich — grilling a panini only heats it through and does not actually cook the meat. After you’ve selected the bread, meat and cheese, decide on the extras.
Some popular additions to panini include spinach, roasted red peppers, basil, olive oil, olives, tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar and oregano. For a vegetable panini, use eggplant or zucchini, or any other vegetable that can be grilled. Panini make for a delicious and filling meal that is simple and quick to make and one that can be customized to your tastes.
Classic Italian Panino
- One 6″ rectangular piece focaccia or ciabatta bread
- 2 thin slices prosciutto or speck
- 2 thin slices taleggio or fontina cheese
- 1⁄2 cup arugula
- 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Split the bread in half and place prosciutto, fontina, and arugula on the bottom half. Drizzle with vinegar, season with salt and pepper and cover with the top half. Place in a panini press and grill just until the cheese begins to melt.
In central Italy, herb-and-garlic-seasoned pork roast is called porchetta. If you cannot find delicatessen porchetta (sold in some specialty food stores), use roasted pre-marinated Italian pork tenderloin. Cool the pork before cutting into thin slices. If you can’t find the olive mix, chop some garlic-stuffed green olives and mix in a bit of olive oil.
- 4 slices (½-inch thick) Italian country bread
- Olive oil
- 6 ounces thinly sliced porchetta or cooked Italian-seasoned pork tenderloin
- 2 tablespoons minced green olive mix or tapenade
- 2 ounces sliced Asiago cheese
Preheat a panini grill or stove-top griddle pan.
Divide pork, olive mix and cheese between 2 slices of bread. Top with remaining bread.
Brush the outsides of the bread lightly with oil.
Place sandwiches on a panini grill or stove top griddle. Cover with grill top or a grill press.
Grill 2 to 3 minutes or until golden and cheese starts to melt.
Tomato, Artichoke and Fontina Panini
- 4 slices sourdough or multi-grain bread
- 4 slices Italian Fontina cheese (3/4 ounce each)
- 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, well-drained and sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
- 4 slices tomato
On two slices of bread, layer half the cheese, artichokes, spinach, two slices of tomato and the remaining half of the cheese.
Top with the uncovered bread slices.
Cook on a panini maker or indoor grill until bread is toasted and the cheese melts.
Grilled Vegetable and Cheese Panini
- One small onion (sliced)
- 2 bell peppers, red or yellow (seeded and each cut in 4 wedges)
- 2 zucchini (sliced)
- 4 oz. (100 g) provolone, scamorza or fontina cheese (sliced)
- One handful of fresh arugula
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Salt and cayenne pepper
- 4 slices (½-inch thick) Italian country bread
In a small skillet, saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
Grill the bell peppers and zucchini on a stove-top or outdoor grill (lightly sprinkled with salt) for about 15 minutes over medium heat.
When the peppers are ready, put them aside and peel off the skin (it should come off easily – if it doesn’t, let the peppers rest for 10 minutes in a sealed zip-lock while they are still warm).
Assemble the sandwich by layering the cheese, the grilled vegetables, the onions and the arugula on one half of the bread slices. Cook the sandwiches in the press until the cheese melts.
Pesto Chicken Panini
- 2 (2- to 3-ounce) Ciabatta rolls or foccacia bread
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 2 ounces mozzarella or fontina cheese, sliced
- 6 ounces thinly sliced grilled or roasted chicken
- 1 tomato, sliced thin
Preheat a panini grill or stove-top griddle pan.
Slice the bread in half. Spread the cut sides if the bread with pesto.
Top one side with chicken, cheese and tomatoes. Place the top on and brush lightly with olive oil, if desired.
Place in the grill or on a griddle. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until golden and the cheese starts to melt.
Sometimes, only a sandwich will do. Pasta seems too complicated and meat too fussy. A sandwich is simple and easy — bread, fillings – done. However, have you ever had a burger with a too-crusty bun or a multi-layered hero on bread that falls apart? Then you know what it means to choose the wrong bread for a sandwich. The basic rule of sandwich-making is that textures need to work together. You just need some basic knowledge and a bit of creativity.
Some breads work with almost everything, and challah — like its sweeter French cousin, brioche — is one of them. If you’re looking for fluff or sweetness as a balance to salty flavors, these breads are perfect: Both will also stand up to savory, salty prosciutto, condiments and even mayonnaise-based salads.
Heartier sandwiches, like pulled pork or meatballs, require more support, so go with a bun or roll. If you’re set on slices, remember that soggy fillings — like marinated steak or tomatoes for — benefit from thick-cut slices of bread.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are those sandwiches that require a lighter touch, especially if you’re thinking about making an open-faced sandwich. While baguettes are versatile, they also allow for thinner slicing. Baguettes are a wonderful base for a variety of toppings, especially if you’re feeding a crowd and they toast well.
Though some would argue that a wap is not a sandwich, they are popular for typical sandwich fillings, like salads, cold cuts and scrambled eggs. Just be sure the fillings are soft enough to be rolled up.
Are you thinking about making a Mediterranean type sandwich? You might want to choose an olive oil bread like focaccia or ciabatta. An olive oil bread is ideal to support, tomatoes, olives hummus, feta, pickles and capers. These breads also make the best paninis.
Want a healthy midday sandwich to get you through the day? Earthy, multi-textured loaves are a perfect match for good-for-you fillings like leafy greens, spreads, and tofu. They are also perfect for PB&J.
Maybe you are in the mood for a BLT or grilled cheese? Stick to the classics for these sandwiches, like a loaf of crusty sourdough. These types of sandwiches are all about what’s in the middle (cheese, bacon, tomatoes) and you want bread that will compliment them. The balance of soft chew, crusty crust and a slight tang make sourdough a good choice.
Chicken Panini with Tapenade, Roasted Peppers and Onions
Makes about 4 large sandwiches
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread thinly sliced or focaccia sliced in half
- Artichoke and olive tapenade (recipe below)
- 6 ounces Italian Fontina cheese, sliced
- 4 roasted red bell peppers from a jar
- 3/4 cup sautéed onions
- 1 large bunch fresh basil
- 1 pound cooked chicken breasts, sliced thin
- Olive Oil
Spread 1 slice of bread with tapenade, and layer the cheese and peppers on top. Spread cooked onions on another slice and top with basil and chicken.
Put the two halves together, brush the outsides of the bread with olive oil, and grill on a Panini maker or on a cast iron pan with another cast iron pan pressed on top. Repeat with all remaining sandwiches.
Olive and Artichoke Tapenade
- 4 ounces (113 g) of pitted kalamata olives
- 4 ounces (113 g) marinated artichoke hearts
- 2 fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
Open-Faced Roasted Vegetable Sandwiches
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 medium eggplant, thinly sliced
- 2 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 medium sweet red pepper, sliced
- 1 medium green pepper, sliced
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- One small baguette cut in half and then in half again to make 4 pieces or use 4 – ½ inch thick slices of challah bread
- 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
- 4 slices Muenster cheese
Preheat oven to 425°F. Toast bread.
In a large bowl, combine oil, garlic, salt, oregano and basil. Add vegetables and toss to coat. Transfer to two 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pans.
Bake, uncovered, 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
Combine mayonnaise, vinegar and mustard; spread over toasted bread. Place on a baking sheet. Top with vegetable mixture, tomato and cheese.
Broil 6-8 in. from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Turkey Salad on Whole Wheat
- 1 cup chopped cooked turkey or chicken breast
- 1/3 cup chopped cored apple or chopped seeded cucumber or finely chopped celery
- 1 hard-cooked egg, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt
- 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
- Salt and black pepper
- 8 slices whole wheat bread
- 4 lettuce leaves
In a medium bowl stir together turkey, apple and egg. Add yogurt and mayonnaise; stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or cover and chill up to 4 hours.
Spread chicken mixture on half of the bread slices. Top with lettuce leaves and remaining bread slices. Cut each sandwich in half.
Healthy Everything Hoagie
- 1 regular or whole wheat hoagie roll, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 2 fresh basil leaves , chopped
- 1 large lettuce leaf
- 1 slice deli oven roasted beef
- 1 slice deli oven roasted turkey breast
- 1 slice deli lean ham
- 2 thin slices provolone cheese
- 2 slices ripe tomato
- 1 thin slice red onion
- 2 thin slices green bell pepper
- Sliced pickles, optional
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar and basil.
Drizzle mixture on the inside top half of the roll.
On the bottom half of the roll, layer ingredients in the following order: lettuce, beef, turkey, ham, cheese, tomato, onion, peppers and pickles, if using.
Cover with the top of the roll.
Crispy Fish Fillet Sandwiches
This sandwich is oven fried and the sauce is made with yogurt to keep it healthy. Coleslaw goes well with this sandwich.
- Nonstick spray
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Two 6-ounce fish fillets (tilapia, halibut, cod, snapper, grouper, etc.
- Two 6-inch soft rolls or baguette, split and toasted
- 1 tomato, sliced
- Lettuce, shredded
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1/4 teaspoon prepared horseradish
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a heavy-duty baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray in the oven to heat.
Combine the sauce ingredients and refrigerate until ready to make the sandwiches.
Mix together the melted butter, Dijon mustard and dill in a pie plate. In another pie plate, combine the panko, cayenne and some salt and pepper. Dredge the fish through the melted butter mixture and then through the panko. Place on the hot baking pan in the oven and bake until cooked through and lightly golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
Assemble the sandwich by slathering the toasted split roll with the Sandwich Sauce, topping with the breaded fish fillet and adding tomato slices and shredded lettuce.
Winter is the time of year when we crave warm, home-cooked food. We love getting cozy with a variety of winter comfort food recipes, from mashed potatoes and gratins to mac n’ cheese.
Comforting or not, though, those classics are typically loaded with butter, milk, heavy cream and refined carbohydrates, piling on pounds that can stick around long past the winter thaw. But you don’t have to give up on comfort food just yet.
Hot and hearty sandwiches are the best of all worlds on chilly days: filling, warming and easy to eat. They can be delicious, yet healthy. Whether you grab a bite as you’re rushing around or fix yourself a dinner plate, the following Italian sandwich recipes will give you comfort.
- Two 6-ounce cans albacore tuna
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced basil
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 ciabatta rolls, split
- Dijon mustard
- Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices of Mozzarella or Fontina cheese (6 ounces)
- Sliced bread and butter pickles, optional
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
In a medium bowl, mix the tuna with the onion, olive oil, vinegar, basil and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a panini press or griddle.
Spread the cut sides of the rolls with mustard and top each roll half with a slice of cheese. Spread the tuna mixture on the bottoms and add a few pickles slices, if desired.
Close the sandwiches and spread the outsides of the rolls with the butter.
Place the sandwiches in the press and cook over moderate heat until the cheese is melted, about 6 minutes. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.
Grilled Chicken, Tomato and Onion Sandwiches
- 3 ounces pitted mixed olives (1 cup)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/3 inch thick slices
- 1 Vidalia onion (or any sweet onion), cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 4 crusty rolls, such as ciabatta, sourdough or hero, split horizontally
- 1 1/2 pounds thin chicken cutlets
Heat a stove top grill pan.
In a mini food processor, pulse the pitted olives with the crushed garlic and oregano until chopped. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil and pulse until finely chopped. Season with pepper.
Brush the, chicken, tomatoes, onion and cut sides of the rolls with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Grill the tomatoes and onion over high heat until they are softened and lightly charred, about 2 minutes for the tomatoes and 6 minutes for the onion. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Grill the bread until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes Remove to a plate.
Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper and grill them, turning occasionally, until they are lightly browned in spots and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.
Cut the chicken cutlets to fit the toasted rolls and top with the sliced tomatoes, sliced onion and olive relish. Close the sandwiches, cut them in half and serve.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1 pound red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- 6 Italian chicken sausages, about 5 ounces each
- 3 long hero rolls, split lengthwise
Heat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Heat a large skillet and add the oil, bell peppers, onion, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are softened and just beginning to brown, 6 minutes. Place the vegetables in a heatproof bowl, cover with foil and keep warm in the oven while you cook the sausages.
Prick the sausages with a knife and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until no trace of pink remains, about 10 minutes.
Add the sausages to the vegetables and keep warm.
Brush the rolls with oil and toast under the broiler. Fill the rolls with the sausages and peppers, cut each one in half and serve.
Eggplant Parm Sandwiches
- One 28-ounce can whole Italian tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing the baking pan
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
- 2-pounds of eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 4 long hero rolls, cut in half and split lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes with their juices, garlic and the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season the sauce with salt. Set aside.
Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil.
Put the eggs and bread crumbs in 2 separate shallow bowls. Working with 1 slice of eggplant at a time, dip the slice in the egg, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, then coat with the bread crumbs. Place the slice of eggplant on one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices. You may need a third baking sheet.
Bake the eggplant slices until lightly brown, about 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Lightly oil a 10-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with a single layer of eggplant. Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the eggplant. Top with a few mozzarella slices and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the parmesan. Tear one-third of the basil leaves and place over the cheese.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients for a total of 4 layers, ending with a layer of eggplant and a thick layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top.
Wrap the entire pan in foil and set it on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake the eggplant for about 1 hour, until heated through.
Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Remove the foil from the top of the pan and bake for about 10 minutes longer, until lightly browned on top.
Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.
Cut wedges of eggplant to fit the rolls and serve.
Pepper Pork and Fennel Sandwiches
Aleppo chili pepper comes from Syrian town of Aleppo, just east of the Turkish border. These red chilies are also known in the Mediterranean region as halaby peppers. Moderately hot, the crushed, dried peppers are celebrated for their rich, fruity flavor that’s sometimes described as a cross between cumin and cayenne. It has a moderate heat level with a hint of a vinegar, salty taste. Aleppo pepper offers a nice variation from your usual crushed red pepper flakes.
- 3 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/4 cup Aleppo pepper
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large fennel bulb—trimmed, cored and very thinly sliced
- 4 cups (packed) arugula
- 6 toasted ciabatta rolls, split, for serving
Make 6 cuts in the pork, 1 inch apart, cutting most of the way through the meat. Rub the pork all over with the salt. Rub the pork with the garlic and then with the Aleppo pepper, covering the meat completely. Wrap the pork in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Set the pork in a baking dish just large enough to hold it and add 1/4 cup of water. Cover the pork with parchment paper and then cover tightly with foil. Bake for about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.
Pour all but 1/4 cup of the roasting juices into a bowl and reserve. Drizzle the pork with the vinegar, cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and let it rest, covered in the pan, for 10 minutes. Remove the pork to a cutting board.
Combine the pan juices with the reserved juices in a microwave safe bowl.
In a large bowl, stir the olive oil with the lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper. Add the fennel and arugula and toss.
Brush the rolls with oil and toast under the broiler.
Discard any fat and gristle from the pork. Reheat the juices in the microwave or in a pan.
Shred the meat and toss with the hot pan juices.
Pile the meat on the rolls, top with the fennel salad and serve.