After making a delicious loaf of fresh artisan wheat bread with rosemary and walnuts, I had a craving for a panini. But not just any regular kind of panini, I wanted something that would pair well with the rustic artisan bread I had just made. That’s when I started feeling adventurous and developed this sweet, salty, and savory grilled havarti panini with prune jam and arugula.
Why did I make prune jam? Because I love prunes. Even though saying this probably ages me by about 30 years. Prunes are absolutely fabulous, they are sweet, rich and delicious but you have to be careful about eating too many of them all at once, unfortunately. Using just a spread of prune jam on a piece of bread is enough to satisfy my cravings without going overboard. This jam also turned out to be very rich, which is why I chose to add the balsamic vinegar for some acidity to balance the flavors, which worked out perfectly.
The prune jam is actually surprisingly easy to make and comes together quite quickly. The secret to making the jam is to re-hydrate the prunes by simmering them with sugar, balsamic vinegar, and water until they begin to swell and absorb the juices.
Once the prunes are ready, transfer them to a food processor and blend until a smooth paste forms. When you initially blend the prune jam it will be an unsightly light brown color, but if you give it time to oxidize the color will eventually turn into a dark purple/brown color.
Grab a handful of peppery arugula and toss it with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Slice the bread into medium sized slices in preparation for your sandwich.
Layer the prune jam on one slice and then layer cheese and arugula onto the sandwich.
Close the sandwich and butter the outside of the panini. Cook in a heated pan for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. If you are looking to make a complete meal I would suggest pairing this panini with a smoky tomato and fennel soup. The acidity in this soup pairs well with the rich cheesiness of the panini and makes for a full rounded meal. Enjoy!
- 8 slices artisan wheat bread
- 1 cup pitted prunes
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 4 (1 oz) slices of Havarti cheese
- 1 cup arugula
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- softened butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- Transfer to food processor and mix until a smooth jam forms.
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine prunes, sugar, balsamic vinegar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes until the prunes have rehydrated.
- In a small bowl toss arugula and olive oil, then add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spread jam onto one slice of bread. Layer on one slice of cheese and top with arugula, close to form a sandwich.
- Pre-heat a pan on medium low heat. Spread softened butter on the outside slices of the sandwich, then place in a skillet and put a heavy pan on top to add weight. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
- You can also use a panini press or a George Foreman grill to cook the panini. Heat the press, then butter the outside of the sandwich and place in the press for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.