Something happened this weekend and, while I’m no Farmer’s Almanac, I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the fact that our calendars have flipped to June. Yes, June. I’m not sure what June’s arrival brought in your neck of the woods, but here in Chicago, it made the air feel a little more dense, it prompted the bright petals of our begonias to begin to unfurl and it was scented by charcoal embers smoldering in the backyards up and down our block. To June and the summer she’ll usher in, I say: welcome. Come on in. Stay a while, won’t you?
On Sunday, we fashioned our best welcome wagon for June. We walked to a farmer’s market. We sat on our deck. We discussed the possibility of an afternoon ice cream treat no fewer than a half-dozen times. And, of course, we fired up our grill. Because, well, it was the least we could do.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
We grilled up a chicken breast, sheathed in a coating of spicy Dijon mustard and smoky paprika. When it, in all its succulence, came off the grill we sliced it and split it among two panini. We tucked it between pieces of naan, stuck together with melty smoked gouda and threaded with slivers of grilled red peppers.
And then, we feasted. On our deck of course, shifting our gaze between the sinking, burning sun to the west and the glittery Chicago skyline to the east, tennis-spectator-style. When we finished off the last of our sandwiches, we weren’t quite ready to call it a night. Instead, we played a game of cribbage (the winner of which shall remain nameless) and lit a flickering candle. I’m looking forward to more Sundays—more anydays—like that one.
Grilled Chicken & Red Pepper Panini with Smoked Gouda
2 large chicken breasts
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt & pepper
2 red bell peppers, halved and cored
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices naan, cut in half (or other flatbread)
16 thin slices smoked gouda
12 basil leaves
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice, paprika and salt and pepper. Add the chicken breasts and massage the marinade into the chicken. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Prepare a grill. Rub the red pepper halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken breasts (until cooked through) and the red pepper (until softened and blackened in spots). Do not turn the grill off. Allow the chicken and the peppers to rest so they are cool enough to handle. Once cooled, slice the red peppers and chicken breasts into thin strips.
Working with a pair of naan halves, pile on two slices of gouda, three basil leaves a quarter of the red peppers and a quarter of the chicken. Top with two more slices of gouda and the other naan halves. Repeat with the remaining three pairs of naan halves.
Once the sandwiches are assembled, return them to the grill for a couple minutes per side, until the gouda has melted and the naan has toasted. Serve warm.