Any Way You Slice It

After Thanksgiving, it can sometimes seem like there are turkey sandwiches for days. And that can be an incredibly good thing, provided you mix things up a bit by taking advantage of a wide variety of ingredient options. One of my absolute favorites combines tender turkey with salty bacon crumbles, sharp cheese, fresh spinach, juicy pears, and even a bit of fig jam:

The result of this process yields a panini that's got a little bit of everything. Now, you could skip just about any of these ingredients and still end up with a fine sandwich, but I highly recommend trying it as described below. And you could opt for full slices of bacon instead of the crumbles, but I bet I'm not the only one out there who has bitten into a sandwich only to pull an entire slice of bacon out. The crumbles make it easier to eat and pepper some salty crunch into every bite. Combine that with some juicy pear and sweet fig preserves and you're on the way to nirvana. Make sure you have fantastic bread, tender fresh spinach, and some sharp cheese and you're there!

As to what to have alongside such a beautiful sandwich, that's part of the beauty of it. Because this panini boasts a wide variety of textures and flavors, it pairs well with all kinds of great options. Traditional items like chips or potato salad work beautifully, but reheat some of Thanksgiving's roasted vegetables tossed with a bright vinaigrette and you're also in luck. You can even keep it super simple and just have it alongside a pickle and some sliced apples. After all, using leftovers can be deliciously simple, too!

Turkey-Pear Panini

  • 1 small loaf ciabatta bread
  • 4-6 oz. sliced turkey breast
  • 2-3 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1-2 oz. sliced sharp white cheddar
  • 2-3 oz. fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 ripe pear, sliced into thin slices
  • 1 T. fig preserves

Heat a panini press to medium heat.

Meanwhile, slice the ciabatta bread in half and arrange the remaining ingredients on it in the order listed, ending with slathering the top half of the bread with the fig preserves.

Set the sandwich on the press and gently but firmly press the lid closed. Allow the panini to cook for 4-6 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Remove the sandwich from the press and allow to cool on a cutting board for at least 4 minutes before carefully slicing it into individual servings. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes