Picnics can be so much more than cold sandwiches wrapped in foil, as Kathy Strahs from Panini Happy Blog showed us today on KGTV San Diego. With a panini press on hand and a little imagination (or ideas from Kathy) a picnic can turn into a world of ooey gooey cheesy goodness! If this video gets you drooling for a little Caribbean flair for your picnic, check out our exclusive Panini Happy recipe below:
Grilled Pineapple-Pepper Jack Bites
By Kathy Strahs, PaniniHappy.com
Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 24 minutes (including cooling time)
Total Time: 34 minutes
1 whole fresh pineapple
½ pound Tillamook Pepper Jack Cheese, cut into 32 bite-sized cubes
32 fresh basil leaves
32 party toothpicks
Heat the panini maker to high heat.
Slice off the top and bottom ends of the pineapple. Stand the pineapple up on one of the cut ends and carefully cut away the outer peel with a sharp knife, from top to bottom.
With the pineapple still standing on its end, make a vertical slice about 1 inch from edge of the pineapple, making a large pineapple “plank.” Rotate the pineapple a quarter turn and make another vertical slice 1 inch from the edge, making another plank. Continue rotating and slicing the pineapple two more times, working your way around the core, so that you have a total of four pineapple planks that are each 1 inch thick. It’s important that you get the planks as close to the same thickness as possible for even contact with the grill grates.
Place the pineapple planks on the panini maker and close the lid. Grill the pineapple until dark grill marks appear, about 4 minutes.
Transfer the pineapple to a clean cutting board and allow them to cool to room temperature before assembling the bites, about 20 minutes. Cut the pineapple into bite-sized chunks.
When you’re ready to assemble, take a party pick and thread on a cube of pepper jack, a basil leaf (if it’s large, you can always roll it up to make it look neater) and a grilled pineapple chunk. You should have enough pineapple to make 32 skewers, but you may have more or fewer chunks depending on the size of your pineapple.
Note: These bites are best made the same day that you’re going to serve them, as the fresh basil will wilt over time.
Now that Kathy has given us all inspiration with her delicious panini recipes, pull out your press and get to cooking. Send us a picture of your picnic creations and you could win a trip for 4 to the Oregon Coast. Tasty cheese and a free trip is a pretty good way to spend the weekend!