I think everyone in the Western world owns a George Forman grill or something similar, in Ireland I thing most people probably use it for the traditional “toastie”. Our relationship with the toastie goes way back to the little plastic bag days when you had a choice of ham & cheese or ham cheese and onion.  Bruno can’t understand my need for mustard with my toastie, it’s obviously an Irish thing.

I still have my toastie with mustard on the odd occasion but I have upgraded it to gourmet status and now use red onion. I have to say I have welcomed the Italian version of the toasted sandwich with open arms. We have a huge range of panini in La Cucina and I’m delighted to say the staples of the Irish diet – chicken, bacon, garlic mayo have been replaced by the finer Italian fillings. Our fascination with garlic mayo in this country still amazes me everyday. Our best sellers now are:

  • Italia – parma ham, rocket, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto.
  • Grigliatta – roasted aubergines, roasted peppers, rocket, mozzarella and pesto.
  • Tonno – tuna, brie, rocket and sun-dried tomato mayo.
  • Pollo – breaded chicken fillet, lettuce, tomato and mayo.

In Italy you would never find these combinations as they tend to eat their panini quite simple with just meat and cheese and absolutely no dressing. In Ireland pesto has become the new mayo, we make it every second day. My staff curse me when they are plucking the leaves off 1kg of basil for about an hour. We eat ours the Italian way and most of the time we just have a toasted ciabatta with parma ham and buffalo mozzarella but every now and again we go crazy and add rocket!! ” crazy kids”

What you need:

  • ciabatta – Dunnes do a really good ciabatta, it even has the grill lines on it.
  • good quality parma ham
  • buffalo mozzarella – we have a really good one in La Cucina and Olio e Farina on little Catherine St now stock organic buffalo for anyone that can’t get to Castletroy!! Just ask for Susan and tell her Lor&Bru sent you!!!
  • rocket
  • olive oil

How to make it:

 – I’m not going to insult you by telling you how to make a sandwich, I’m sure you know how. One tip though, pour a little olive oil on your machine before grilling.

 – on a sunny day serve with a “Peroni” beer  while dining “al fresco”.

Buon Appetito!!