Normally I do not post food news here, just on my Facebook group, but how can I not share the award-winning recipe and story?!
Chef Michael Howell from Nova Scotia takes top honours. Photo courtesy Dairy Farmers of Canada.
Dairy Farmers of Canada today announced that Panini Toscano has been named Canada’s “gratest” grilled cheese. Chef Michael Howell of The Tempest restaurant in Wolfville, Nova Scotia stole the show with his delicious creation at the Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off, which saw top chefs from across Canada put their spin on this classic Canadian favourite.
The winning grilled cheese combined the flavours of figs, prosciutto, arugula, and Canadian Gouda cheese from Fox Hill in Nova Scotia. The Cook-Off was organized by Dairy Farmers of Canada to take the grilled cheese sandwich to a whole new level and showcase the outstanding quality, variety, taste and versatility of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian milk. The winning grilled cheese sandwich was chosen by a jury of Canada’s top food writers: Rita DeMontis, Lucy Waverman, and Corey Mintz.
Award-winning Panini Toscano by Chef Michael Howell. Photo courtesy Dairy Farmers of Canada.
By Chef Michael Howell
1 fresh ciabatta bun, about 5“ (12cm) square
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon aioli
1 ripe fig cut into 4-5 slices
2 slices of Parma prosciutto thinly shaved
2 slices 1 oz (30g) each Canadian Havarti cheese, 1/8“ (2mm ) thick
1 oz (30g) fresh baby arugula
½ roasted red pepper, peeled & cut into ¾“ (2 cm) slices
1 tbsp (15 mL) balsamic vinaigrette
Lemon Aioli Ingredients
¼ cup (60 mL) prepared olive oil mayonnaise
Juice and zest from ½ a lemon
1 clove garlic
Balsamic Vinaigrette Ingredients
1 tsp (5 ml) balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt and pepper
½ tsp (2 mL) Dijon mustard
Pinch of sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil
Preparation & Cooking
Mix aioli ingredients together and let flavours mingle for ½ an hour.
Split the fresh ciabatta in ½ and brush both sides liberally with the lemon aioli.
Layer one slice of havarti cheese on the bottom of the bun, then top with the sliced figs, prosciutto, couple sprigs of arugula and finish with other slice of cheese.
Top with the other side of the bun, place in a pre-heated panini press and grill until cheese is melting and bread is lightly marked.
If using a grill or barbeque, place a weight on top of sandwich and flip halfway through cooking.
While sandwich is grilling, make vinaigrette by combining first five ingredients in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until incorporated.
In other small bowl, dress arugula with 1 tbsp of vinaigrette and place on a plate.
Toss two slices of red pepper in same bowl to dress lightly and place on top of salad.
When sandwich is ready, remove from press and split in ½ diagonally.
Place around salad and serve immediately.
Lightly brush the bun on both sides with extra virgin olive oil and if using a grill or bbq place a weight on top of sandwich and flip ½ way through cooking.
Debra She Who Seeks says
Love the trophy with the grater on top! I hate to be a nit-picky purist but is this actually a grilled cheese sandwich? Isn’t it really a fancy-shmancy ham-and-cheese sandwich instead? Hey, I know what “prosciutto” means!
Congratulations to the Chef. That sounds like my kind of sandwich!
C’mon Debra. It’s grilled, it’s cheese, ergo Grilled cheese. PS ducked to that site the other day and found a great Grilled cheese & shrimp Sandwich. There are some good ones there. I think I’d like that winner too !!
Brandi Reynolds says
yum! say…do you think it would still be good without the prosciuotto? I’m not eating meat these days….
I was at the CNE and watched the whole show…..I even got a sample of some of the sandwiches. Also they handed out cheese graters and some other lil’ gadgets. I really enjoyed the show. Thanks for sharing this post.
Suzie Ridler says
Absolutely! I don’t eat pork and I would still totally make this. Havarti and figs? Sounds good to me! 🙂
BTW, Havarti is a a fabulous melting cheese so I think it qualifies.
Erica, that is so cool you got to see the show! 🙂 I am glad you enjoyed the post, you are very welcome.
marybin and mike says
Thanks Suzie for posting this. I had a great time competing and was honored to win. I LOVE cheese! IT is good without prosciutto but will miss that salty component that the meat brings to the sandwish.
Suzie Ridler says
Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting Michael, I appreciate it! Yes, without the prosciutto it will not be as complete but I think this can still be enjoyed by vegetarians, just not the same. Congratulations again Michael!
I have heard of Tempest but have never had a chance to go (I don’t live in NS anymore). Congrats to the chef!
Just found you: a Canadian food blogger. that panini looks an sounds fantastic.