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Smoked Ham, Cheddar Cheese and Pear Panini

Here, the flavors of salty ham and sweet pears are nicely balanced by pungent mustard and a full-flavored cheddar cheese. If you can’t find a Bartlett pear, a Comice or Anjou is a good substitute. Accompany the sandwiches with a simple tossed green salad. If you have a panini press or a panini grill, use it as directed in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Ingredients:

  • 8 thick slices multigrain bread 
  • 1/2 cup whole-grain mustard 
  • 1/2 lb. thinly sliced smoked ham 
  • 1 Bartlett pear, peeled, cored and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick 
  • 1/2 lb. medium-sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 

Directions:

Brush the bread slices on one side with the mustard. Divide the ham evenly among 4 of the slices. Top with the pear slices and then with cheese. Top with the remaining bread slices, mustard side down.

Heat a grill pan or heavy fry pan over medium-high heat. Brush the outsides of the sandwiches with the olive oil.

When the pan is hot, place 2 sandwiches in the center. Set another heavy pan on top of the sandwiches and place 2 or 3 heavy cans in the pan to weight it down evenly. Cook the sandwiches until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the sandwiches over, weight them again, and cook until browned on the other side and the cheese is melting, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the sandwiches to a plate. Repeat to cook the remaining 2 sandwiches. Cut the sandwiches in half, place on individual plates and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).