I'm really excited to have been invited to join the Canadian Tire Kitchen Crew, a team of bloggers working in partnership with Canadian Tire to help you find new ways to explore your kitchen's potential.
Over the course of the next couple of months, I'll be carrying out three separate missions, each of which will involve great, original recipes based around products that are available at your local Canadian Tire.
For my first Kitchen Crew mission, I received a free Cuisinart Griddler 4-in-1 Grill, and was given the following challenge:
Between your day job and your social calendar, it's hard to find the time to do anything anymore - let alone pack a lunch! Besides wanting to stay healthy, you also need a lunch that'll travel well, because - let's face it - who likes soggy sandwich lettuce? Your mission this week is to develop easy lunchtime eats! That means a total prep time of 20 minutes or less - no cheating!
Coincidentally enough, I already had a Griddler of my own before this challenge came my way - I bought it as my housewarming present to myself when The Boy and I closed the deal on our house four years ago, and it's still one of my favourite small kitchen appliances... you could take my stand mixer, meat grinder, waffle maker and immersion blender, but you will pry my Griddler from my cold, dead hands.
The biggest advantage of the Griddler is its multi-tasking ability (hence that whole 4-in-1 part of the name) - it's a contact grill, panini maker, flat grill and griddle, all in one. The newer model comes with a single set of non-stick reversible plates, which have a ridged surface on one side and a flat surface on the other - a nice upgrade from the two sets of single-side plates that came with my old model, which made storage a bit challenging.
Depending on your needs, it can be used folded to for panini, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas or hamburgers, or opened flat to cook up pancakes or grill meats and veggies. Best of all, cleanup is a breeze - the plates pop out with the push of a button, and are completely dishwasher-safe.
The only complaint I've ever had about my Griddler (aside from the plate storage issue that's been fixed with this model) is the fact that it ought to make waffles, too... but a quick poke around Canadian Tire's website revealed that Cuisinart's fixed that quibble too. A set of waffle plates can be purchased separately... sweet!
Since one of the things I make most often on my Griddler is grilled Italian-style panini, it seemed like the obvious choice for my quickie 20-minute gourmet lunch challenge. I have found that the floating hinge can make panini a little tricky, since it makes it very difficult to apply pressure evenly using the handle alone (on my first few attempts, the uneven pressure would often cause the top bun to slide away when using buns or thick slices of bread). My solution is to use a clean dishtowel or oven mitt to press down directly on the top of the Griddler to flatten my panini. No more runaway buns!
For this recipe, I drew on the classic meatball marinara sub for inspiration, and filled my panini with a combination of Italian sausage "meatballs", roasted red pepper strips, melted Provolone cheese, and a dollop of marinara sauce. They're just what a great panini ought to be - toast and crispy on the outside, and soft, moist and gooey on the inside.
Admittedly, this sandwich definitely tastes best while still warm from the Griddler, but even when cooled to room temperature and packed up in a lunch bag, it's still miles better than any peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread could ever be... plus, if you're lucky enough to have a toaster oven at the office, you could always reheat it briefly to melt the cheese and warm everything through. No matter what, it's still guaranteed to make your coworkers wild with jealousy.
I was provided with compensation, including a free Cuisinart Griddler 4-in-1, in exchange for creating this post for the Canadian Tire Kitchen Crew series.
The Kitchen Crew series highlights my stories, recipes & tips with promotional consideration made possible by Canadian Tire. If you want to uncover your kitchen's true potential, stay tuned to the Kitchen Crew for my weekly missions.
- 2 spicy Italian sausages
- 2 ciabatta buns (or 1 small loaf, cut in half)
- ¼ cup bottled marinara sauce
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes (options)
- ¼ cup sliced roasted red pepper
- 4 slices Provolone cheese
- Remove the casing from the sausages. Cut each sausage into six roughly even-sized pieces, the roll the pieces between the palms of your hands to form a dozen little meatballs.
- In a skillet set over medium-high heat, fry the sausage balls for 7-10 minutes, or until well browned and cooked all the way through.
- Meanwhile, insert plates into the Griddler with the ridged side facing out and preheat to High.
- Split the ciabatta buns lengthwise, and scoop out a small hollow from the inside of both the top and bottom halves to help keep the filling contained when it's pressed in the Griddler.
- Starting with the first bun, spread the top and bottom halves with half of the marinara, and sprinkle with half of the oregano and red pepper flakes (if using). Place a slice of cheese onto the bottom half of the bun, followed by half of the sausage, a second slice of cheese, half of the red peppers, and top off with the top half of the bun. Using the palm of your hand, press down gently to squish the sandwich together. Repeat with the remaining bun and fillings.
- Arrange the sandwiches on the bottom plate of the preheated Griddler, then lower the top and press down gently for 30 seconds to flatten the panini. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted. Slice in half and serve immediately, or wrap up to take to work and make your coworkers jealous.
I have this panini press/griddle and I love it! I used it waaaay more than I thought I would when I first got it as a holiday gift last year. And this panini sounds awesome right now. I had a bowl of cereal for dinner and my inner carnivore is feeling left out.
This recipe looks so simple and something my son would enjoy eating. I am definitely saving this recipe! There's nothing like fresh panini! yum!
Dee Dee's Delights says
Congrats on top 9! This looks so good!
Shea Goldstein says
Congrats on making top 9! Your panini looks divine.
Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says
Congrats on the Top 9, Isabelle! Although I'm not a big sandwich fan, I would definitely make this for a desk-based lunch. It looks rather tasty. This is the sandwich to make coworkers drool.
Thanks, Hester! I'm not really a big sandwich person either (in fact, this is the lone entry under the "sandwich" tag, which should tell you something). For some odd reason, though, panini feel like an entirely different food group. I blame the melty cheese factor. :)
Apron Appeal says
Sandwiches are one of my most favorite foods, This looks fantastic. Nice work with top 9.
This looks like a delicious recipe to save for when I'm feeling much better - it's bookmarked!!
Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. says
This panini looks wonderful! And that grill looks like so much fun! I want one too!
Mmmmm... looks delicious. My hubby would love this.
[email protected] says
Wow...I want one. Of each! Both the grill and the sandwich look awesome! I love panini's. And this grill really does look so versatile!
It just sounds perfect for lunch or dinner. Remember where I live if ever you feel the need to adopt out a griddler with waffle plates:D
Well, if no one local wants my old Griddler, it could be yours... though I have a feeling the cost of shipping it out west might be almost as much as just buying the darn thing. :P
Lucky! I want one of those toys! The sandwich looks great!
Hester aka The Chef Doc says
Ooh, this 4-in-1 looks AWESOME! It's good that I'm also a panini lover :-) The sandwich looks absolutely fantastic!
Eevery time I pass theh pannini presses I'm totally tempted and talk myself out of it. I think I just moved over to the dark side - gotta have one now -your pannini looks divine.
No, really. I'm not kidding when I say it's my favourite small electric - it's so versatile.
Kimmy @ Lighter and Local says
What a fun little group to be part of! :-) I am now seriously craving a panini... this looks fabulous!
[email protected] says
Yay - welcome to the Kitchen Crew! I think your panini would go smashingly with the soup I made for part 1 of Mission 1! This looks delectable!
Oooh... you're on the Kitchen Crew too! How fun. Your tomato soup totally looks like the perfect partner for these panini.