There is something oddly alien and organic about beech mushrooms that just makes them pop in photos. As an added benefit, they also taste really good, and you can usually pick up a bunch from your local Asian grocery store. Cut of the base where they are all connected and treat them like ordinary mushrooms after that. This sandwich brings out the best of the mushrooms, because they are so prominent compared to the other ingredients. We opted for a brief sautéing with olive oil and thyme.
Reason number 1099 why I love living in Southern California: fig season! We don’t have our own fig tree – a gardening oversight that we plan on remedying soon. We have the perfect spot picked out and Wendie has done her research to determine which variety to grow. More on that later. Between the local farmers markets and generous friends we’ve eaten more figs this season than in our entire lives. We love eating them fresh from the tree and have also experimented with making preserves, jams, sandwiches and this latest use – on pizzas. This little configuration was served as dessert in a recent pizza party: fig and goat cheese pizza with caramelized figs and onions.
Ever heard of the four cheese sandwich? Typically this sandwich involves an abundance of cheese with little smidgen of veggies. A few weeks ago, we decided to turn that recipe upside down and make the four tomato caprese panini. Thanks to overshopping (yet again) at the annual Tomato Mania, our garden has quite a variety of this summer necessity. If only the variety was matched by abundance. Sigh! This year, we have been outdone by the garden pests who have made off with most of our yield. Poor Anders. In anticipation of this annual raiding, early in the season he stocked the pantry with peanut butter – the bait of choice for our Have a Heart trap. Months later, we are out of peanut butter and tomatoes. There are some very fat well fed squirrels and rabbits running around Poway right now and they owe it all to Anders. How they managed to get to the PB without springing the trap is beyond me. Ocassionally, (grudglying, we suspect), they left us a few, from which we were able to have a few tomato meals – like this sandwich.
You can use any combination of tomatoes you wish. We used: white oxheart, brandy boy, Mr. Stripey and XXX. It was delish, so much so that after eating his mammoth sandwich, Anders begged for another. After eating his second sandwich, he was nearly comatose on the sofa. Sweet reward for me… that and hearing him declare, “this is hands down the best panini I’ve ever tasted.”