Pastrami Swiss Panini

Panini (small bread in Italian) is one of my favorite versions of sandwiches. Everything is better when toasted.

Paninis arose in the US around the 1950s, (although they’ve been around as early as during the 16th-century in Italian cookbooks).  The sandwiches became trendy in Milanese bars in the 1970s and 1980s which quickly spread to hip U.S. restaurants in New York, whose popularity then spread to other U.S. cities, each with their own distinctive variations (Dining Chicago).

I’ve had a very busy month on the Hematology wards  (inpatient)- these patients, alas, all have some kind of blood cancer. While this month has been incredibly rewarding, the long hours have precluded any fancy recipe making (or even grocery shopping – I went three weeks without any groceries! A record for me!) 
This whole month, I literally ate ham and cheese sandwiches every day for lunch. Unfortunately, my sandwiches were not that great since my beloved toaster oven caught on fire! (Luckily, B was able to yank out the cord, and the flames eventually died down). The lack of groceries also did not help – so I had super boring untoasted/ungrilled bread.
This recipe was from a better time, when I actually had food in my fridge.
Sadly, I forgot I had B’s panini press at my disposal until the whole month had ended.  I had made this Pastrami Swiss Panini prior to starting Hematology wards, and this could have saved me from so many unsatisfactory sandwiches. 
But when you’re this tired, I guess you don’t care so much what you eat as long as you have something to eat, lol. Recipe by me.

PS.  My brother and I had a spirited debate on what more important to have for a decent sandwich – I would have mediocre fillings as long as the bread was good (ie rustic, toasted/grilled), while my brother would forgo fancy bread (ie he was ok with regular plain old white untoasted bread slices) in favor of better cheese. Let us know your vote!

Pastrami Swiss Panini

4 slices wheat bread
4-6 slices swiss cheese
3/4 lb pastrami
red cabbage
extra virgin olive oil

Heat up the panini press while prepping your sandwich.

To assemble the sandwich, drizzle olive oil on the bottom side of one bread slice. Layer the pastrami, cilantro, and red cabbage. Top with swiss cheese and the other bread slice, then drizzle the top with olive oil. Place the sandwich on the press. Remove the panini once the cheese has melted, it is heated through middle, and the bread is toasted to a golden brown.

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  1. as an avid sandwich enthusiast, I thoroughly approve of this sandwich. The cabbage would add an interesting crunch and balance to the already salty and brined meat. Bravo!
    Bread is the introduction to an excellent sandwich and like they say, first impressions are everything.

  2. This looks delicious! We have a panini press at home and I swear that thing gets the most use out of any of our appliances. I can't decide if bread or cheese is more important!!! If it's a plain untoasted sandwich, I would say the bread. But for a panini, any bread turns into magic when toasted so in that case, give me the fancy cheese!

  3. I once told my husband a panini maker was unnecessary but he clearly won out. Haha your thoughts are absolutely right – and I think your vote coincides with mine haha 😉 My brother is ok with plain untoasted bread (crazy!)