By late summer, almost any sandwich can be improved with rounds from a glorious tomato. This recipe got the nod for our Top Tomato issue because it simply, successfully marries the fruit with watercress in a stack that tastes especially great straight from the warmth of a panini maker.
Of course, you could achieve similar results with a cast-iron skillet and a weight on top of the sandwiches. But you might miss those panini ridges. If you want to skip the heat -- and, judging by the un-pressed version, activate your hinged jaw -- the sandwich still "eats good."
Serve with apple slices.
- One 12-ounce ciabatta loaf or 4 ciabatta rolls
- 1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons homemade or store-bought pesto
- 2 firm plum or Roma tomatoes
- 8 ounces thinly sliced roast beef
- 4 ounces watercress
- 4 ounces thinly sliced Asiago cheese (may substitute Swiss)
Preheat the panini press to medium-high heat.
Cut the ciabatta loaf or rolls in half horizontally. (Cut the loaf into 4 equal quarters.)
Whisk together the mayonnaise and pesto in a small bowl until well blended. Spread the mixture on all inside surfaces of the ciabatta.
Cut both tomatoes crosswise into slices, discarding as much of the gel and seeds as possible.
Build the first sandwich by layering on a bottom half, spread side up, in order: one-quarter of the roast beef, one quarter of the watercress, one-quarter of the tomato slices and one-quarter of the cheese. Cover with a ciabatta top, spread side down, pressing gently and making sure the watercress is tucked in.
Place in the panini press and close the lid. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the bread is toasted.
Meanwhile, build the three remaining sandwiches in the same manner, using the remaining bread, roast beef, watercress, tomato slices and cheese.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from "The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook," by Kathy Strahs (Harvard Common Press, 2013).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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