Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Turkey Panini with Prosciutto and Pesto

These easy and inviting panini eat more like a meal than a sandwich. Deli turkey breast, a little prosciutto, and tangy goat cheese—highlighted with a no-cook parsley-basil pesto—turn simple ingredients into a satisfying, Italian-flavored dinner. (Remember that when you make panini, you want only a few complementary ingredients so that the rolls are easy to flatten in the pan.)

Traditional pesto is made with all basil, but other fresh herbs are common substitutes—either by themselves or as a mixture. Parsley is one of the most popular. For this recipe, I used both basil and parsley for a bright, floral mix. Yes, you can purchase prepared pesto at a store, but making it fresh is easy, fast, and—fresh.

Grilling the filled panini rolls is the only cooking involved here, making this one of the most flavorful, casual no-cook dinners you can take to the table.

Note: I used a very soft goat cheese that’s easily spreadable and adds great tanginess to balance all the flavors. If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, try mascarpone, cream cheese, or any other soft, spreadable cheese you like.

Serves 4


For the Pesto
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup broken walnut pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
Pesto Ingredients
For the Panini
  • 2 12-inch crusty baguettes, each cut crosswise in half and split into tops and bottoms
  • 1/2 lb thinly sliced deli turkey breast
  • 8 very thin slices prosciutto (2-3 oz total)
  • 3 oz soft goat cheese
  • olive oil for brushing
Prepared Baguettes

For the Pesto
  1. Place the basil, parsley, walnuts, and garlic in a food processor and season with salt and pepper. Grind until finely chopped.
  2. With the motor running, slowly pour in the extra virgin olive oil. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl and process until smooth. Pour the pesto into a bowl and stir in the cheese.
Ingredients Ready to Grind
Ground Ingredients
Oil Added 
Basil-Parsley Pesto
For the Panini
  1. Lay the baguette halves cut-side up on a work surface. Divide the pesto and spread on the bottom halves. Divide the goat cheese and spread on the top halves.
  2. Divide the turkey breast on the bottom halves, overlapping as needed, and divide the prosciutto on top. Place the tops on the sandwiches and press down gently.
Pesto and Goat Cheese Layers 
Turkey Layer 
Prosciutto Layer 
Ready to Grill
  1. Heat a grill pan (or heavy skillet) over medium-high heat and brush lightly with olive oil. Place 2 panini in the pan and place a grill press on top (or use a small, heavy skillet as a press).
  2. Grill until the bread shows grill marks on the bottom, 3-4 minutes. Turn and grill, continuing to press, until the sandwiches are hot throughout, about 3 minutes longer.
  3. Remove and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining 2 panini.
Panini Beginning to Grill
Panini after Turning
To serve, place the panini on a cutting board and cut each diagonally in half. Divide among plates and serve.

Turkey Panini with Prosciutto and Pesto

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