Hearty pumpernickel, pungent bleu (or blue) cheese spread, peppery arugula, caramelized onions, and the star of the sandwich - pastrami - all cooked to perfection in minutes... A Bleu Cheese and Pastrami Panini is a delicious alternative to the drive-thru on a busy evening!
Ebenezer Scrooge: Christmas is a very busy time for us, Mr. Cratchit. People preparing feasts, giving parties, spending the mortgage money on frivolities.
~~ The Muppet Christmas Carol
What single word best describes this time of year? I'd venture to say many would say "busy!" My mood tends to run the gamut from loving the crazy chaos to begging the merry-go-round be stopped to let me off... Too often the main beneficiaries of this busy-ness are fast food restaurants. People just don't have the time or the desire to cook at home. I'd like to suggest a healthier and tastier approach - the panini press. This Bleu Cheese and Pastrami Panini comes together so quickly, and you can't beat the flavor combination.
The panini press is a wonderful addition to any kitchen. Both counter top and stove top models are available; I have both. The objective is to provide weight and heat to the sandwich. The advantage to the electric version is that the heat is applied from both top and bottom, so no flipping is necessary. This gets the sandwich done more quickly. What could be better than the sharp, pungent taste of bleu cheese with good pastrami, caramelized onions, and arugula on pumpernickel? I would suggest this sandwich will beat a hamburger from the drive-thru handily 🙂
Update May 2016: I'm in the process of updating my earliest posts - improving the format and photos. Last week whilst visiting my "kids" in Las Cruces, my son's boyfriend Devin blessed us with 2 pounds of homemade pastrami. Of course I seized the opportunity to make this fantastic panini and re-shoot the photos (which were horrible!). Well, I may forever be spoiled for making this sandwich with store bought pastrami! Kelsey (daughter-in-law) exclaimed "this is the best sandwich I've ever had!" I'm inclined to agree. However, it is still quite amazing with "regular" pastrami... I am including Devin's recipe for the pastrami just for fun. 😀 Devin's Brine and Devin's Rub.
Bleu Cheese and Pastrami Panini
- 1 oz. bleu cheese softened if possible
- 1 oz. cream cheese softened if possible
- 1 tbsp. stone ground mustard
- 6 oz. good pastrami see notes
- a handful of arugula
- 1 sweet onion caramelized see notes
- 4 slices pumpernickel bread
Make the spread:
In a small bowl, add cheeses and ground mustard. Using a fork, smash the ingredients together to make a smooth spread. Set aside.
Preheat panini press if using.
Spread the inside of each piece of bread with 1/4th of the cheese mixture. Top one half with 3 ounces of pastrami, and the other half with onions and arugula. Press the halves together.
Brush the outside of each sandwich with olive oil. Set on the panini press or griddle. Weight the top with either the panini press or a cast iron pan.
Flip if not using an electric panini press (about 5 minutes per side), or 5 minutes in an electric panini press.
I'm always looking for ways to trim fat and calories. I found a really good quality turkey pastrami. Use your favorite. Most recently, I made this with homemade pastrami, and it was beyond amazing.
If you use a sweet onion, caramelizing them is optional. Regular yellow onions really benefit from a slow caramelization. If you're pressed for time, saute the onions until very soft and golden. They will still be delicious!
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal): 556 calories; 32 g protein; 72 g carbohydrates; 15 g fat.
I wish my panini press was not so "used" looking, but I do use it often. Think about flavor profiles when putting together the components of a panini - Italian meats (prosciutto, salami), provolone, roasted red peppers, and basil pesto on sourdough; Spanish chorizo, manchego, and watercress on whole wheat ciabatta... Be creative!