Kathy Strahs has been writing PaniniHappy.com, a food blog all about sandwiches and other innovative recipes for the panini maker, since 2008. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two preschoolers.
The word rajas in Spanish literally translates as “strips”…as in strips of roasted chiles and onions that bring a punch of south-of-the-border flavor to all kinds of dishes. Grilling rajas is an easy job on the panini maker – it takes just minutes to get them nicely charred. Pile them on sourdough bread with Tillamook Pepper Jack for a spicy grilled cheese sandwich or, to tone down the heat, opt for Tillamook Monterey Jack.
Preheat the panini grill according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Slice off the tops and bottoms of both peppers. Stand each one up on its end and slice it open from top to bottom. With the poblano you’ll be able to open the pepper out flat; with the red bell pepper you’ll need to cut the walls of the pepper a section at a time. Remove and discard the seeds and trim any white ribs.
Lay the peppers cut side down on the grill and close the lid. Grill the peppers until they’re charred and blistered, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a paper bag and leave them in there for 20 minutes to allow the steam to release the skin.
While the peppers are steaming, drizzle the onion rounds with oil and grill them until they’re tender with dark grill marks, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the onions to a medium bowl, separating the rings. Keep the panini grill on.
One at a time, remove the peppers from the paper bag, peel off the skins (if they don’t come off easily, try putting them back in the bag to steam for a little while longer) and slice the peppers lengthwise into strips. Toss the peppers in with the grilled onions.
For each sandwich: Lay a slice of cheese on a slice of sourdough bread. Top the cheese with a generous pile of peppers and onions and second slice of cheese. Close the sandwich with another slice of bread.
Grill the panini until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted, 4 to 5 minutes.