roasted asparagus and goat cheese panini
I studied abroad in Nantes, France for the Spring Semester of my Junior year in college. I lived with a French family, took all of my courses in French, and ate lots and lots of French food. The thing I remember most about the experience was the goat cheese...just kidding... the thing I remember most is how much I missed my then fiancé (now husband) and how much I wished that I had not decided to go for a full five months instead of a six week summer program. BUT, the cheese was great!
I was lucky to have made some really really great friends through the program I went through and something that we did rather frequently together on the weekends was to go to a cafe at four or five in the afternoon (restaurants don't serve dinner before seven or sometimes even eight) and get a glass of wine and a cheese plate. Pretty much everywhere in France has a cheese plate on the menu and it is almost never the same twice. A basic cheese plate would consist of an assortment of hard, semi-soft, and soft cheeses, a few grapes, butter, maybe some nuts, and a baguette. We never knew which cheese was which- so it was sort of like a surprise with every mouthful. I'm a pretty adventurous cheese eater myself- I'm not turned off by strong or even very strong cheese- in fact I think the only cheese I cannot palate is cream cheese and is that even a cheese at all?! Anyway, back to goat cheese. I had no idea that there are so many varieties of goat cheese until I was in France and it appeared on everything, not just those remarkable cheese plates! Little rounds of it were broiled on the tops of pizzas, it was present in big hunks insides of quiche, and one memorable night my host mom served us buttered toast with melted goat cheese for dinner- and that brings me to this pressed sandwich.
Who doesn't love a paini? Its just so exciting to bring a cold, soft, lifeless little sandwich to life by making the bread all grilled and crispy and the cheese all melty. This one is a modified recipe from Williams Sonoma. I really love their store, but their website is great too- they have a wealth of recipes (including this one) on there for free. I didn't use mayonnaise because I can't stand it and honestly I don't know why you would need it with all of that marvelous creamy goat cheese anyway. I also didn't use the country-style bread; instead, I used a flatbread from the grocery store. I'm definitely going to do it on a country-style bread next time- I think it will help keep the sandwich together a little better. Also, after much consideration I think I might add some chopped walnuts to my next one too. So, in closing: for me this sandwich was really just a platform to hold a bunch of delicious goat cheese which pairs so wonderfully with asparagus!