I LOVE sandwiches. I mean, who doesn't? Carbo-loading with delicious ingredients and the options are endless. Although, I will admit, sometimes I get stuck in a PB & J rut. Recently, I started watching "Next Food Network Star" and loving Jeff Mauro. He won last season (oops...do I have to say "spoiler alert" if the info is a year old??) and his recipes are really creative and interesting when it comes to composing a yummy sandwich.
Here, I adapted one of his panini recipes and it turned out delicious. It combines the traditional flavors of ham and cheese with a unique twist - using sharp Italian cheese and fig spread to make it out of this world.
To make this recipe even faster and easier, feel free to use prepared (read: store bought) fig spread. IF you've got the time, I included the recipe for homemade fig spread.
2 cups dried figs, stems removed and halved
3/4 cups balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
4 squares focaccia bread
8 ounces Italian sharp cheese, such as Fontinella, or asiago, sliced
1 pound black forest ham, thinly sliced
Olive oil, for brushing
For the fig spread: Bring the figs, 1 cup water, balsamic and sugar to a simmer in a small pot. Simmer until the figs rehydrate and the liquid reduces and thickens, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Once cool, place in a food processor and puree until smooth, 20 to 30 seconds.
For the sandwich: Preheat a griddle over medium-low heat or heat a panini press. Slice 1 focaccia square in half. Place a thin layer of the fig spread on the inside of both halves. Place a couple slices of cheese on the bottom, and then place 4 ounces ham on top. Close and lightly brush the bread with olive oil. Griddle the sandwich until golden and warm, about 4 minutes a side. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Recipe adapted from "The Sandwich King" Jeff Mauro