As if you needed another reason to love panini, here’s one: The addictive sandwiches make an ideal canvas for testing out cheese pairings. Here, we’re matching nutty, rich Manchego with fig jam and roasted cremini mushrooms. To complement the buttery, sweet flavors of the cheese and jam, we’re layering on arugula and chopped piquillos for a fresh, peppery element. Sweet and salty perfection? We think so.
3 ounces baby arugula
⅛ ounce parsley
8 ounces cremini mushrooms
2 roasted piquillo peppers, divided
2 cloves garlic
4 slices sourdough bread
1 ounce fig jam
2 ounces shredded Manchego cheese
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 baking sheets
Wiping mushrooms clean instead of rinsing prevents them from absorbing water. They won’t brown well if they’re too wet.
Want to see our technique for making garlic paste? You’ll be glad you did.
Add a little extra decadence by topping your panini with a fried egg—the toasted bread will be perfect for soaking up the runny yolk.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Rinse arugula and pat dry with paper towel. Rinse parsley and roughly chop leaves, discarding stems. Remove and discard mushroom stems, then wipe caps clean with a damp paper towel and thinly slice (see Recipe Tip). Peel shallots, halve, and thinly slice. Finely chop piquillo peppers. Mince garlic and, still on cutting board, sprinkle over .125 teaspoon salt. Using a large knife, carefully scrape over mixture at a 45° angle, pressing down. Repeat until garlic is broken down and a paste forms (see Recipe Tip).
In a large bowl, reserve .25 teaspoon garlic paste and set aside for Step 5. On a baking sheet, toss mushrooms and shallots with remaining garlic paste, 1 tablespoon olive oil, .25 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Arrange in a single layer and roast until tender and slightly browned, 15 minutes. Once roasted, remove from oven and set aside to cool.
While mushrooms and shallots roast, on a separate baking sheet, arrange bread slices in a single layer. Drizzle 1 side of each bread slice with olive oil, then flip slices. Spread fig jam evenly over plain sides of 2 bread slices; sprinkle Manchego and mozzarella evenly over remaining plain slices. Transfer to oven with mushrooms and shallots and toast until bread is golden and cheese has melted, 6-7 minutes.
While bread toasts, in bowl with reserved .25 teaspoon garlic paste, add sherry vinegar, half of chopped piquillo peppers, 1.5 tablespoons olive oil, .25 teaspoon salt, and black pepper as desired and whisk to combine. Add arugula and parsley to bowl with dressing and toss to coat.
Once toasted, remove sourdough from oven. Top cheese slices with remaining chopped piquillo peppers, then mushrooms and shallots, then a small handful of arugula. Finish with remaining bread slices, fig jam–side down (see Recipe Tip). Halve panini and transfer to serving plates with remaining arugula. Dig in!
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