broadly speaking, this brie and blueberry jam panini was inspired by the sound of music. remember when julie andrews’ character sings about a few of her favorite things? that’s what this sandwich is: brie + blueberry jam + shallots + baby arugula + crunchy whole wheat bread = a few of my favorite things.
i suspect that none of these items on their own require much explanation as to why they would be included on a list of my favorite things. however, i think that maybe right up until the moment when you take your first bite of a panini/grilled cheese that combines cheese and some kind of fruit jam, it sounds pretty weird. and then, if you are like me, that moment marks the beginning of a new era in your life, the one in which every possible panini that you consider making includes the question, ‘would this be better with some kind of jam situation?’.
and often the answer is yes. here, the sweet (but not cloying) blueberry jam is offset by the slightly bitter baby arugula and ever so slightly tangy sautéed shallots with white wine vinegar. and then brie does its amazingly smooth melty thing, which is contrasted by the crispy, crunchy whole wheat bread. yum. i won’t be so presumptuous as to declare that this will be one of your new favorite things, but it’s definitely one of mine.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 small or ½ of a large shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 slices of whole wheat bread (i like to cut relatively thick slices)
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar (don’t buy it just for this but it’s nice if you have it)
- 2 tablespoons blueberry jam
- ½ cup baby arugula
- 7/8 oz. (27 g. / 1/3 cup) brie cheese, sliced
- in a small sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. when the oil is hot, add the sliced shallot. sauté for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is soft, translucent, and beginning to turn golden brown.
- while the shallot is sautéing, put your two slices of bread together so they line up (since the loaf is likely not symmetrical) then brush the outsides of each piece of bread with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. (my bread slices are usually not symmetrical and when i am not paying attention (which is usually), i end up brushing one side on each slice such that the slices don’t align when i put the sandwich together. hardly the end of the world but if i can help you avoid this…) open the (empty) sandwich back up and put the two oiled sides down on your cutting board or plate.
- the shallots are probably done by now so take those off the heat and stir in the white wine vinegar, if you have it.
- spread the blueberry jam on one slice of bread. add the arugula then shallots. i find it easiest to lay the slices of brie out on the other slice of bread, then cover it with my hand to flip it onto the other slice of bread to close the sandwich but you may prefer to balance the brie on top of the other fillings then just add the slice of bread. choose your own adventure here.
- following the instructions that came with your machine, preheat it. if the instruction booklet is long gone, i always err on the side of low and slow for panini so that the cheese can melt before the bread burns. keep an eye on the sandwich (if the bread is turning golden brown and the cheese hasn’t melted at all yet, turn down the heat) and remove it from the press once the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted. remove the sandwich from the press, wait a minute for the cheese to solidify just enough, then cut in half and enjoy your panini immediately.
- heat a medium sized skillet over medium-low heat. once the sandwich is closed and the skillet is hot, carefully transfer the sandwich to the pan. i find a wide spatula helpful for this maneuver. grab a lid for the skillet (it doesn’t have to fit perfectly, we just want to trap some heat to help the cheese melt before the bread burns) and cover the pan.
- after 3 – 4 minutes, check the bottom of your sandwich. if the bread is browning and the cheese hasn’t even started to melt yet, turn down the heat. after another 3 or so minutes, check the bottom of the sandwich again. once it’s nice and golden brown, flip it over and this time leave the lid off so that the nice crunchy former bottom/now top of your sandwich doesn’t get soggy from steam while the bottom browns.
- once the bottom of the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, remove from heat, wait a minute for the cheese to solidify just enough, then cut in half and enjoy your panini immediately.
you can make this panini either with a griddler type machine (i have and totally love this one) or on the stove top.
for what it’s worth, i love bonne maman fruit jams because, after spending waaaay too long in the jam aisle of the grocery store one day, i concluded that they struck my “sweet” spot for weird chemical/ingredient free, appropriately (but not too) sweet, bold fruit flavor jam. every flavor of theirs that i’ve tried since then has been a winner.