Tonight was a big night. I made my first panini culinary masterpiece in my brand spankin’ new ‘nini maker (see my reaction on Christmas here, when I found out I had gotten one). I have to admit — the minute I opened this baby up, I knew what my first combo would be: a turkey, ham, & apricot panini a la IowaGirlEats (one of my absolute fave bloggers – love her!). And, just because I was really in the mood to try out her recipes, I also made her roasted brussel sprouts (seriously…these recipes are all mouth-watering, even from just the descriptions! Even without pictures! And you all know me, right? 🙂 ).
My dad was actually the guinea pig — because of a commitment, he needed to eat a little bit earlier than the rest of us, so when he told me the meal was 2-thumbs-up (not exactly his words, but I think it’s a pretty accurate description of his feelings – right, Dad? :)), I took that as the go-ahead to prepare it for my momma and me.
I had never tried brussel sprouts before, and though I was skeptical, my dad really prompted me to try them (probably unknowingly!). I asked him if he’d ever had them, and he said he was a huge fan.
Looking at Iowa Girl Eat’s recipe for Roasted Brussel Sprouts, I cut the little ends off the sprouts and then cut them in 1/2 (for extra crispiness). I mixed ’em with a little bit of evoo, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and placed them on a pan lined with aluminum foil (that had been sprayed with Pam). Roasted them in a 425 degree oven for 12 minutes, then flipped them around and let them roast another 4-5 minutes (until they were real crispy). Everyone in my house declared they were a winner. (My mom’s words: “Oh, I’d definitely make these again!’) I’d call that a success.
Here’s how it went down:
Never tried these little sprouts before? This is the perfect beginner’s recipe — to get acquainted with this underrated vegetable (did I mention that Whole Food’s website mentions that there have been numerous studies that show the connection between brussel sprouts and cancer prevention? They support the body’s “detox system,” antioxidant system, and its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system). While you may be slightly put-off by the strange smell when you’re preparing them, I’m beggin’ you to give them a chance. At least try them! Then you’ll know for sure. (And remember, it often takes trying something a few times to really gain an appreciation for it. Like me and olives 🙂 )
To go along with mah brussel sprouts (or really, to have my brussel sprouts go along with something), I made turkey, ham, swiss cheese, and apricot preserve paninis. All you do is layer the ingredients onto whatever type of bread you want (I used fresh ciabatta rolls from our local grocery store), warm up the ‘nini maker, and put it in — letting the cheese get all ooey, gooey and the bread thin & crispy.
It may seem like an odd combo (the ham/turkey/cheese with the apricot preserves), but the tanginess of the apricot pairs so well with the smoky meat and tangy cheese. What I love about paninis is there’s really no recipe – the possibilities are endless (as I mentioned in my tribute to the sandwich)…and you really can’t screw it up. Don’t have a panini maker? You can always use a heavy skillet to press down the sandwich so you get the sandwich real thin & crispy…and so you get those impressive grill marks.
At the end of this meal, my mom asked if I’d make dinner every night. While I can’t take all the credit (the panini maker slightly helped me out), I’m happy I got the compliment (even if it was from my mom – who would probably praise my cooking even if it was a burnt-to-the-crisp piece of toast!).