Grilled Cheese Panini Sticks

Grilled Cheese Panini SticksTechnically, I don’t know that I can call these ‘grilled’ cheese panini sticks, as they are not on a griddle, but are in fact, made on a panini maker.  In any case, this is what my family has decided to name them after eating them over and over the last few weeks.  We are in the middle of a kind of soup marathon here at the house and what tastes better in soup than crispy, cheesy, dunk-able sandwiches?!

My parents rarely made grilled cheese when I was a kid so I don’t seem to have the nostalgic and emotional attachment that some of the rest of you do.  I don’t want to get any heated emails about how I have desecrated the sanctity of Wonderbread and Kraft singles sandwiches that seem to be present in most average American households.  And sorry, but we don’t buy white bread either.  So the classic grilled cheese dunked in canned soup will have to be upgraded to the above picture; Easy Homemade Tomato Soup and three cheeses on ciabatta bread.  And if I may be so bold, it tastes better too.  Fresh and hearty, you can taste each individual ingredient while still keeping things a bit light.  I always cut these cheese panini into sticks because they are perfect for dunking that way (obviously) but it also stretches the ingredients a bit.  We don’t all eat a huge bread and cheese sandwich each, but instead, munch on just a few sticks, rounding out our soup with a bit if texture.  We ate these sandwiches with a creamy, thai flavored carrot soup last week and it was out of this world.  Tomato soup is of course classic, but a brothy veggie soup is also great with this robust ciabatta to soak it up.
Grilled Cheese Panini SticksMmm.  Now this is a meal I want my kids to be nostalgic for while eating ramen noodles and Cheetos during their college years.

One Year Ago: Chicken Tamale Casserole
Two Years Ago: Beef Bourguignon & Tilapia W/Citrus Sauce
Three Years Ago: Buttermilk Bread & S’Mores Bars

Grilled Cheese Panini Sticks
You can make this with any kind of bread and cheese combination you like, but this is a good recipe to start with.  The bread holds up to the panini maker and this combination of cheese made us swoon.  We keep garlic grape seed oil in the house for lots of things, but we ALWAYS use it for brushing the outside of paninis before toasting.

ciabatta bread-whole loaves or individual rolls, cut in half
mayo, optional
sliced provolone
sliced cheddar, preferably sharp
sliced colby/jack
softened butter, nonstick spray, or oil for brushing

Spread both halves of the bread with a thin coat of mayo, if desired.  I like the extra bite of flavor it gives, but it is totally up to you.  Layer on a slice of each of the cheeses on the bottom half of the bread and top with the other half of ciabatta.  Brush or spread the outside of the bread with the butter or oil, or spray your panini maker, and toast until crispy on the outside and melty on the inside.  Cool slightly and cut into strips for dunking.  Alternatively, just set the sandwich in a heavy skillet over medium heat and weigh it down with another pan.  Flip it when the underside is brown and toasted, letting it brown on the other side.