Fall is Granny Smith season over at my parent’s house; their trees are so heavy with apples my father has to prop up the branches with long two by fours to keep them from breaking. We also are blessed with a bounty of figs from the fig tree, with which my mother often makes a particularly wonderful fig jam (an easy recipe that cooks up in about 15 minutes, I recommend it!). So when I saw this recipe for an apple and gruyere grilled cheese panini with fig jam in my friend Kathy Strahs’ fabulous new cookbook, The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook, I couldn’t wait to give it a go. It’s sort of a no-brainer actually. Granny Smith apples, gruyere cheese, figs? They belong together. I just never would have thought to put them together in a grilled cheese sandwich. Oh. My. Gosh. Crazy good!
I know that not everyone one has a panini press. In fact, the only reason I have one is that a friend regifted one to me knowing that I like to experiment in the kitchen. You could just as easily make this sandwich like a regular grilled cheese sandwich (for which I prefer using a cast iron pan). Or, if you happen to have a George Forman grill, that would work too!
Dense bread, like bread from a rustic bakery loaf, holds together best in a panini press.
- 2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature to make it easy to spread
- 4 slices rustic whole-grain bread, sliced from a dense bakery loaf
- 2 Tbsp fig jam
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
- 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 Heat the panini press to medium-high heat. (Or if not using a panini press, preheat a cast iron frying pan on medium high heat.)
2 For each sandwich, spread butter on two slices of bread. Turn the slices over and spread a layer of fig jam on the other side of each slice. To one slice add a layer of sliced cheese, several apple slices, and a layer of more cheese. Top the sandwich with the other slice of bread, buttered side up.
3 Place up to two panini at a time in the preheated panini maker, and close the lid closed. Grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted, about 4 to 5 minutes. (Or if making a grilled cheese sandwich instead of a panini, place in heated cast iron pan, cook until one side is browned, use a metal spatula, carefully flip the sandwich over and toast on the other side until the cheese is melted. You may need to lower the heat on the pan to allow enough time for the cheese to melt without burning the bread.)