This elegant panini features sweet Bosc pears and savory feta cheese and sage, laced with a drizzle of tart balsamic vinegar.
Yield: Serves 2
4 slices (½-inch/1 cm thick slices) artisan walnut bread
1 tbsp (15 ml) butter, melted
2 tbsp (25 ml) cream cheese, softened
1 ripe but firm Bosc pear, thinly sliced
2 oz (60 g) feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup (125ml) baby spinach leaves
1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped walnuts, toasted (see Tip in Notes)
1 tbsp (15 ml) balsamic vinegar
Preheat panini grill to high.
1. Brush one side of each bread slice with butter. Place two slices on a work surface, buttered side down, and spread with cream cheese. Evenly layer with pear slices, feta, spinach, sage and walnuts. Drizzle with vinegar. Cover with top halves, buttered side up, and press gently to pack.
2. Place sandwiches in grill, close the top plate and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately.
When I can’t find walnut bread, I use cranberry bread, pistachio bread or challah. If you cannot find any of these, use wheat or white bread.
For the best flavor, always use fresh sage rather than dried. Cooking sage helps it develop its full flavor potential.
Tip: Roasting nuts gives them a richer, fuller flavor. To roast, spread nuts evenly on a baking sheet and roast in a 350°F (180°C) oven until fragrant and light brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Smaller nuts and seeds, such as pine nuts, chopped hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, can be toasted in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon to keep them from burning.