Finding the right balance: not all smoked cheeses are created equal
I don’t know why, but I’ve always found the taste of smoked cheese to be absolutely enchanting. So, I’m always dreaming up recipes where I can use this favorite food. This is why smoky provolone found its way into today’s panini.
Smoked provolone is not as potent as some other smoked cheeses (like smoked Gouda for example). Its delicate smokiness is incredibly pleasing. And it doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients in this sandwich: the balance of flavors is just right. As the panini cook and the provolone softens, the tangy tomato and creamy avocado are permeated with its delicious smoky flavor, making every bite addictive.
This easy summer panini might just become your new favorite lunch!
So, if your panini press has been collecting dust in your pantry, it’s time to dust it off and put it to work… your taste buds will thank you for it!
Food & beer pairing: Belgian Pale Ale with smoked provolone panini
A Belgian Pale Ale is delightful with the panini. The nutty, slightly crisp malt character of the beer and its hoppy notes harmonize beautifully with the smoked cheese – a refreshing and deliciously light pairing!
Smoked provolone panini with tomato, avocado and basil
active time: 30 min
- 2 – 10″ long (or 4 – 5″ long) ciabatta rolls – cut in half lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 8 oz (225 g) smoked provolone, cheddar or gruyère – cut in 1/8″ slices (use a mandoline or box grater)
- 2 medium, ripe tomatoes – cut in thin slices
- 1 large, ripe but still firm avocado – halved, pit removed, and cut in thin slices
- sea salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 12 medium basil leaves
- Step 1: Brush the cut side of the bread with olive oil. Spread half of the cheese slices on two bread slices. Top each slice with the tomato, then the avocado slices. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Top with the basil leaves, the balance of the cheese slices and the remaining slices of bread. Press together firmly to seal the sandwiches.
- Step 2: Preheat a panini press to medium-high to high heat. When the press is ready, place the panini on the bottom griddle and lower the top griddle down gently at first so that the fillings don’t slide out. As the panini cook, you’ll be able to press the top griddle down a bit more firmly. Cook the panini for 10 to 12 minutes until the cheese has softened and the tops are golden. Remove panini from the press. Cut in half so that you have 4 panini, and serve immediately while still piping hot.
- Cook’s note 1: Provolone is not a cheese that melts easily, so it will only soften as you cook the panini. If however you are using gruyère or cheddar, these cheeses will melt quickly.
- Cook’s note 2: If you do not own a panini press, you can make these sandwiches with ciabatta slices instead of rolls. Brush the tops and bottoms of the sandwiches with olive oil and cook them in a skillet over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden-brown and the cheese has melted.
This sounds so delicious. I love smoked cheese, too! You have such a gift of combining simple, fresh foods and creating delightful dishes!
Viviane, It is nearing 10pm and I am craving smoked provolone. I haven’t had smoked cheese in such a long time and I can see how provolone wouldn’t be as potent as others. Delicious looking panini I wish to make for lunch tomorrow.
I love a good smoked cheese, too. This is the kind of sandwich I would eat and not tire of. I love the perfectly uniform slices of avocado, tomatoes and cheese and the cross section shot. 🙂
Another fan of smoked cheeses! There is a local company that makes a mean smoked provolone. I’m going to have to pick some up and make me this delicious looking panini! Your choice of ciabatta rolls was perfect!
Looks so good Viviane. Beautiful photo. I will make some soon! Thank you 🙂
this is such a timely post for me – i have some leftover smoked cheese in the fridge that needs a home, these look so delicious!
Magnifique! I can tell this recipe is going to be a worthy sister of the garlic confit & arugula grilled cheese. I’ll bet that the smoked cheese panini takes on another life with the basil & it is going to be the staple of my new fall season, low-key, close friends dinners. I’ll report back. Don’t know how you could top the confit-arugula triumph but I’ll bet you do.
Adore the sublime pairing of smoked provolone with sweet tomatoes and creamy avocados! An enticing combination for a charming panini. My family would adore this served with a steaming hot bowl of soup on a chilly autumn evening.
De-lish! I’m so glad to see this panini! I’m gonna keep an eye out for some smoked provolone in the grocers, for sure. It sounds awesome with some super yummy avocado 🙂
You have magic in your hands! The sandwich looks so delicious. I hope you are enjoying the Fall weather.
So lovely! You took ordinary ingredients and layered them to form and extraordinary sandwich…just delicious~
What a delicious sandwich!!
I’m a fan of smoked cheese too, and the provolone sounds delicious with the avocado. I do need to dust off my panini press!
Lisa… Here’s to dusting off our panini press! Mine tends to collect dust now and then too… Ah!
Oh I defiantly agree with you on the cheese matter. I love smoked cheese and your panini is perfect for my busy household. I might even make it for my kids lunch boxes.
I hope you are doing well! Enjoy your week!
This is a sandwich that would find its way to our home. My husband loves provolone and he loves smoked food, so this would be right for him. Thanks Vivane.
Can you believe that I have never had smoked cheese…well, I could have, but can’t remember how it tastes, so I must have not tried it before. The sandwich looks super!
Angie! You are such a gourmande that I have no doubt you will adore smoked cheeses. There are quite a few for you to taste too! Bon appétit my dear…
Hi Vivian, I have never tried smoked cheese, so I can only imagine the taste. Avocado, basil and tomato simply the best. I may just have to make it for myself.
Thank you Balvinder! A little warning: smoked cheese is really addictive! 🙂
You make the best recipes. Of course, I’m reading this at lunch time so I want to run out and buy all of the ingredients. It looks amazing.
Thank you El… You are so sweet!
I vote for smoked cheese too. The sandwich looks perfect.
I also like smoked cheese and the flavor combo in these paninis sounds amazing!
Thank you Anita!