Growing Herbs and My Favorite Summer Panini

When we first moved into this house a year ago, there was a large planter with an abundance of parsley growing on the back deck. It was enough parsley to get me through the summer and when the winter came and killed it off, I definitely missing my daily dose of fresh herbs. So this spring, I decided to turn every planter on the deck into an herb planter. I went to Lowe’s and bought basil, parsley and oregano to see how it would do. Two weeks later, I gave birth to Lexi and completely forgot about the herbs. Thankfully, we had plenty of rain and when I finally got around to checking on the herbs, they were thriving. I was floored at how much they’d grown in only a month!

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I promptly went out and picked up mint, dill and chives and just planted those last weekend. I can’t wait to see if they do as well as the initial batch of herbs. Truth be told, I’m kicking myself for not doing this years ago, but I honestly had no idea how easy it was to grow fresh herbs. The parsley, oregano and basil are doing great in full sun (on the front deck) and the mint is, so far, growing marvelously in the partial sun. Who knew that I didn’t have to waste so much money buying tiny quantities of fresh herbs at the grocery store? In fact, my current problem is what the heck to do with all of the basil and parsley that I currently have. Which lead to the creation of my favorite summer panini.

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This panini is incredibly simple, yet ridiculously flavorful. It’s essentially fresh basil leaves, provolone cheese and farm-fresh tomatoes. I think what makes this sandwich is the tomatoes that I recently got from the farmer’s market. They are so ripe and flavorful. I use french bread (the cheapo kind from Walmart works just fine, although a crisp french bread would be marvelous here), sliced in half and spread butter on one side and mayo on the other side. Then, I add thick slices of tomato, whole basil leaves and 2 slices of provolone cheese. I also make sure to generously salt and pepper the tomato. Then, I just pop this in my preheated George Foreman grill and cook it until the cheese melts (about 5 minutes).

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I’ve eaten this for lunch the last 3 days and I’ve even added it to the menu for dinner this week. Speaking of the menu, here it is:

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Each night, we start off with a house salad and finish off with a huge bowl of watermelon (I think we’ve been going through three watermelons a week). I’ll also add a veggie side, like roasted asparagus or steamed broccoli. Also, while burgers, pizza and fried rice may sound like less than healthy options, by eating these things at home, I can control both exactly how lean the meat it as well as the fat content (by cooking with olive oil instead of butter). It’s a good compromise for our family – the boys get food that they like and I know what’s in it.

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One thought on “Growing Herbs and My Favorite Summer Panini

  1. Jennifer July 6, 2011 / 12:00 pm

    What is better than Panini?

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