Panini Heaven: Pear & Brie, Strawberry & Nutella

February 22, 2013

It is amazing how powerful combining simple ingredients can be.


This Pear & Brie Panini is so spectacularly delicious, you may want to think about picking up these ingredients on your way home and making it immediately.  It actually transported me to a springtime afternoon, in Paris, at a cafe where I also sipped Champagne. It was that good.

Ok, maybe I am thinking about writing and Paris and drinking and cafes because I am reading The Paris Wife, which is about the first marriage of Ernest Hemingway to Hadley Richardson in the 1920s. It is interesting to look at this period in Paris with the amazing writers who lived there (F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein).  The sadness at the fact that they can’t be happy and stay married amidst it all makes you wonder. Because this kind of cafe food – which I am convinced they had to be eating, even though Panini is Italian – makes me VERY happy, and I can’t even drink.


I love it when simple, rustic ingredients combine to make something that is so powerfully delicious. That whole is greater then the sum of its parts phenomenon. It is the amazing combination of textures that makes this so mind blowing. I was reminded of cheese boards with toast, pear compote and brie in the close your eyes delicious factor, but the satisfaction of biting into a thick, chewey, crunchy, creamy, sweet, salty and buttery concoction is even better.  It is grown-up grilled cheese.


It also makes for a great lunch in Lent, when I tend to eat meat only once a day, and none on Friday (except for when you totally forget and are biting into a bacon cheeseburger when you do finally remember it is Friday).  It is very interesting to read writers like Mark Bittman, the Foodie columnist for the New York Times, explain in his book, Food Matters, that if we could learn to eat meat once a day only, and try to have one day a week were we don’t have any at all, we would help the planet and our bodies.  This is the exact plan for Lent which some people think is strict or extreme but really, for 40 days, is a pretty healthy diviation from our instant gratification attitude the other 315 days of the year.

So if you are vegetarian or just looking for some non-meat meals, revisit the Heavenly Panini. They remind me of crepes when you think of their infinite combos of goodness.  Spinach, Feta, Olive Tapanade and Sundried Tomatoes, Tuna with Havarti Dill and Arugula, Veggie Burger with Tomato and Mozzarella. Yum, yum, and more yum. If you are missing some meat or want to make a heartier meal, stuff some Turkey in with the Brie and Pear Panini.

And why stop with meals? Desserts are welcome too.


This strawberry and Nutella panini was so good.  I ate it while the kids were in school but felt extreme guilt for not saving any for my Nutella loving daughter.  There is always tomorrow, and more combinations await.  Maybe pear and chocolate? Definitely bananas and chocolate.  What about brie and chocolate??  I might need to start looking into support groups…

Or you could just let me know your favorite Panini creation!  I can’t wait to taste – I mean read – your ideas.




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