Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Aldi meal - gourmet eating at discount prices - Brie / Pear Panini

Since I have been writing several posts now about the Aldi specials that turn out to be really good eats at bargain prices, I figured that from time to time I could write a post about a meal that incorporates the weekly specials from Aldi.
The first post will describe a simple sandwich that I thought of when Aldi had in consecutive weeks pears and brie cheese on sale. So today at work, I made a sandwich out of these ingredients and it turned out to be really tasty and a bargain as well.
I had previously eaten similar sandwiches at local eateries, combining pears or apples with brie cheese and then potentially some other ingredients, such as walnuts. But I wanted this sandwich to be easy enough that I could fix it at work.
So this morning, the ingredients below made it into my lunch bag.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - three ingredients for a tasty sandwich - could not be easier!
Brie is on sale this week at Aldi - I picked up the Brie shown above for $2.99 - not a bad price. The pears were on sale starting last Wednesday for about 50 cents/pd - a real bargain. The bread is simple whole wheat bread, you could go fancy and use ciabatta or bagels.
I sliced both the pear and the brie cheese very thinly since I wanted to do two layers of pears and cheese on my sandwich. I figured since I will toast this, I want the slices to be thin to melt nicely and prevent the filling from falling out.
I started off by toasting the bread. I did not toast it for too long to ensure that the bread was still soft since I wanted to press the sandwich later and was afraid that darkly toasted bread may break into pieces.
I then piled on two layers of pears and brie, alternating the cheese and fruit. I made sure that the top layer of bread touched the pears since I did not want pear juice to soak too much into the bottom layer of bread when I pressed it later on.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - No panini press? No problem - George Foreman grill will do!
So we do not have a panini press at work, but someone had left a Foreman grill in the shared kitchen, so I put the sandwich on the grill and pressed down the lid for a couple of minutes, then checked how dark the bread and how soft the cheese was and continued to grill the bread until I liked the consistency.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - finished sandwich, nice layers and nice consistency!
The above picture shows the final product. The sandwich got a lot thinner due to the pressing, so the George Foreman grill did its job. The cheese was nicely melted, but not too soft and the pears and brie cheese formed layers that were just the right size.
My first bite convinced me that this is winner. The sandwich tasted awesome! I like brie, but because of the relatively high fat content, I am hesitant to just eat a brie sandwich. So the addition of the pears makes the sandwich more substantial, but keeps the calories down overall. I can highly recommend this combination and the total prep time was about 10 minutes, using no other device than a simple grill. I am sure a toaster oven would work as well or even a pan, if you put a weight on the sandwich to press the layers together and give you the panini appearance!

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