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Mother’s Day Panini

My daughter Nora is pissed off at me.

“Why do you buy things for yourself right before Mother’s Day?” she asked, irritably, when I bragged that I had just bought a panini maker, exactly what she’d planned to get me as a gift for my favorite holiday.

It is pretty shocking whenever I buy something for the kitchen, whether or not a holiday is involved, because I do it so rarely. I have limited counter space (and limited patience) for cappuccino machines and waffle irons. When things like that enter my house, they usually make their way to the garage in short order, where they cure for a couple of years before heading down to the Goodwill.

I currently have not one, but two ice cream makers in the garage now, biding their time until they upgrade their lodgings.

But I’m determined that my panini maker will avoid being consigned to the land of dust and spiders, that it will actually see a fair amount of use, starting on Sunday. Since I sucked the air out of Nora’s gift idea, I will make it up to her by making paninis on Mother’s Day.

Traditionally, of course, mothers are off duty on M.’s day (why do you think it’s my fave holiday?), but I might rock that tradition and panini-fy. See, if I’m extra nice, maybe I can get Nora to give me the gift that really keeps on giving: Tivo lessons.

PS: although the recipe calls for solid white tuna packed in water, my friend Jeffy Lee points out that you should only use Genova tuna, the real deal from Italy…Jeffy Lee does not understand the depths of my husband’s pickiness, or he’d get why I use the SWTPIW, but he is, of course, absolutely right so if you have a more tolerant family, go with the Genova.


1 12-ounce can solid white tuna packed in water
2/3 cup mayonnaise, divided
1 tablespoon basil pesto
1 loaf ciabatta bread, about16 inches long
2 cups “Spring Mix” lettuce,
baby romaine, or arugula
1 avocado, cut into thin slices
1 tomato, seeded and sliced thin
4 ounces sliced Jarlsberg cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1. Drain the tuna well and place it in a bowl. Add 1/3 cup of the mayonnaise and, using a fork, mix it together very well, until all the mayo is incorporated. In a small bowl, combine the remaining mayonnaise with the pesto and set it aside.

2. Cut the bread in half crosswise. Take one of the halves and split it horizontally. Scoop out a little of the bread to make room for the filling. Schmear the cut sides of the bread with half of the pesto mayonnaise. Place slices of cheese over the mayo on both sides. Spread the tuna over the cheese on one side, and the lettuce leaves on the other side. Add some avocado and tomato slices and press the sides together to make a large sandwich. Repeat with the other piece of ciabatta.

Heat your panini grill and brush the sandwiches on the bottom and top with the oil. Place the sandwiches on the grill (you will need to do this one at a time), close the top and grill until the sandwich is nicely browned and the cheese is melted, about 5-6 minutes.
Cut the sandwiches in half and serve hot.

P.S. If you don’t have a panini maker you can make this using the method I’ve used for years: put the sandwich in a skillet or grill pan over medium-low heat and weight it down with a heavy pot to get that squished effect while you grill it, for about five minutes per side.

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2 Responses to “Mother’s Day Panini”

  1. Anna Says:

    I’m loving the idea of scooping out the bread to make room for the filling!

  2. suzanne Says:

    we are paniniphiles in our house
    if you remain motionless for long enough, adam and i will smother you in cheese and stuff you in the panini-maker.

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