This recipe for panini with Taleggio cheese, grilled radicchio, and speck isn’t for those eaters who crave bland or mild sandwiches. Full of assertive flavors, it covers all the bases–earthy Taleggio, bitter radicchio, smoky speck, and sweet walnuts. You’re welcome.
The formal, multi-course meals that Italy is known for give way to piatto unico–one dish meals that are well-balanced, hearty, and can include dishes such as bountiful main course panini. They’re prepared with the same love and passion that are so essential to Italian cooking, yet are still creative and flexible enough for improvisation and unusual combinations to fit anyone’s taste.-–Toni Lydecker
HOW DO I MAKE A PANINI WITHOUT A PANINI PRESS?
If you’re shaking your head in disappointment, muttering to yourself, “Damn! If only I had a panini maker…,” stop right there and read this recipe. No panini maker required. However…we do understand the allure of crisply toasted and pressed ‘wich. A waffle maker works like a charm on panini, as does weighing down the sandwich, like a muffuletta, before cooking. Wrap it up and put in the fridge with a weight on top–a small skillet or a plate with a can of tomatoes will do the trick– then grill after a few hours of pressing. Ta-da!
You can also make a toasted version of this sandwich using sliced country-style white or whole-wheat bread. Just assemble as above, heat a little olive oil in a skillet, and toast the sandwiches, turning once, until golden brown on each side. See how easy that disappointment was quelled? You’re welcome.
Panini with Taleggio, Grilled Radicchio, and Speck
- Olive oil
- 1 small to medium head radicchio cored and shredded
- 1 loaf Ciabatta or a long baguette
- 8 ounces Taleggio or soft Gorgonzola cheese at room temperature
- 1/2 cup walnut halves broken into pieces
- 4 to 6 ounces thinly sliced speck, prosciutto, mortadella or some of each
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
- Using a serrated knife, slice the bread in half horizontally. (Ciabatta and baguette typically have more crust than crumb, but if your loaf has a good deal of crumb inside, use your fingers to tear most of it out and reserve it for another purpose, such as making bread crumbs.)
- Spread the cheese over both cut sides of the loaf. Sprinkle one or both sides of the loaf with the walnuts. Place the radicchio on one half of the loaf, top with the sliced meat, and sandwich with the other half. Press gently and wrap the sandwich loaf in aluminum foil. (You can refrigerate the sandwich for up to several hours.).
- Bake the sandwich loaf until warmed through, 10 to 15 minutes. Cut it crosswise to create 4 panini. Serve hot, while the cheese is oozy and the walnuts still crunchy and the radicchio not yet entirely wilted.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
“It’s just a sandwich,” you might think. However, this has the salty texture of cured meats, the earthy crunch of walnuts, and the bittersweet touch of radicchio, all held together by oozing Taleggio. No, this is definitely more than “just a sandwich.”
You could use regular ciabatta, but I think that two mini ciabatta have the better feel for a custom sandwich. I managed to find a whole-grain version that added a bit more texture and opted to use all three meats. I’m a pushover for a great sub, which this is, basically.
This was an easy, quick, and quite tasty sandwich. I appreciated the slight bitterness from the radicchio, and the slight sweetness of the walnuts was wonderful. I initially thought they’d be distracting in the sandwich, but their presence was quite welcome. Speck was a bit hard to find, so I opted for the easier prosciutto, which made for a fine bit of salty goodness.
Loved the crispy crunch of the crusty bread sans the bready parts and the earthy gooeyness of the Taleggio, which was a perfect cheese for this sandwich. I loved the easy assembly as a whole (although I plonked everything on one side and then just topped with the other half of bread)—make ahead, bake later, and then cut into parts—as well.
It might be nice smeared with a bit of pesto prior to baking as well. This would be a good game-day or holiday open house sandwich to have on hand.
Originally published January 28, 2013