This plantain, pancetta and pesto panini is a little bit sweet, a little bit savory and perfectly portable for picnics!
I’m glad I’m not doing the voice over for this post. I’d be popping my “p”s all over the place.
Also, my stomach would be growling.
Before we start, a quick note for the panini snobs out there. I actually count myself among you. I am aware that, technically, the singular is panino and the plural is panini. I just couldn’t write the post that way without feeling super pretentious. Can we still be friends?
This recipe started out as a lark. I did NOT expect it to “make the cut.” I concocted it in my head based solely on my geeky love for alliteration.
So I thought it sounded great and wouldn’t it be fantastic if it tasted great, too? But I honestly expected it to taste weird. And, potentially, gross. I’ve never been happier to be wrong. In fact I was so thrilled with how this panini turned out that this happened.
And here’s some really great news. You don’t need a panini maker to make one! Whoop! There it is!!!
If you have a panini maker, great. Use it. If, like me, you don’t here’s what you do:
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I don’t eat a lot of bread and, therefore, don’t make a lot of sandwiches. So, sandwiches around here? They pretty much need to kick butt. Killer bread (thankfully easy to find in Brooklyn.) Loads of flavor. Varied texture. And not too much oozing out the sides.
Plantain Pancetta and Pesto Panini recipe
It makes me crazy when sandwiches are so unbalanced the insides plop out all over my plate. I’m sorry but the minute I have to pick up a fork I’m not eating a sandwich anymore. I’m eating a project. Especially when dining al fresco. Messy and cumbersome and not fun.
To help in that regard here, I slice a bit of the rounded tops off the plantains (like in the second picture in this post.) If I don’t do that, the plantains often shift out to the sides when I put the pan on top to grill it. A flatter top helps them stay in place better which helps the whole panini stay together.
In fact, I think I just hit on the reason I love paninis so much. Paninis are tight. I have a dream of opening a panini shop. Only paninis. Only open from 11am to 3pm. Maybe someday I’ll live some place where I could make the rent with those hours of operation.
Another note about the plantains: you’ll want to use plantains that are at their almost black to black stage of ripeness. Green plantains won’t work, unless you cook them before you put them on the sandwich. A totally legit option but makes it slightly less “easy.” But easy is as easy does, right? If green plantains are all you’ve got and you just can’t wait to try this panini, cut them in half crosswise. Then cut each half in half lengthwise. Then fry them up in a skillet with a little coconut oil.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find (or bake) some killah ciabatta bread (or sourdough) pack a few of these paninis up and head for the nearest park the next chance you get. You can feel confident leaving the utensils at home.
What’s your favorite picnic food? Let me know in the comments.
- 1 loaf of good bread ciabatta or sourdough recommended
- 1 batch of fresh pesto (link for recipe in instructions)
- fontina cheese sliced thin
- 2 ripe plantains peeled, cut in half crosswise, then lengthwise
- 8 thin slices pancetta
- Quarter your bread crosswise, then slice each quarter in half horizontally. Each quarter will now have a "top" half and a "bottom" half.
Spread pesto * on the inside of all eight slices of bread.
- Cover inside of all four "top" halves with fontina cheese.
- On each of the "bottom" halves, place 2 pieces of plantain and 2 slices of pancetta.
- Place "top" halves (with cheese) on their respective "bottom" halves.
- Place in your panini press or grill on the stovetop as in post above. Grill for about 3 to 4 minutes top and bottom.
- Wrap, pack and head for the hills.
*that link will take you to Elise's pesto recipe on Simply Recipes. It's dreamy.