Fig, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Panini + Cookbook Giveaway!

by on September 15, 2010

Post image for Fig, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Panini + Cookbook Giveaway!

For me, the biggest challenge of getting dinner on the table on weeknights is deciding what to make. I have been having an absolute field day (field week?) with a new cookbook for busy families I was invited to review – High Flavor Low Labor, by J.M. Hirsch, the food editor for The Associated Press. Each of the 150 recipes is geared for weeknight cooking, with a simple premise: “Foods that taste great going into the pot need less work from you to taste great when they come out.”

I’m giving away a copy of the book!  [THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED] Read on for my review and find out how to enter. PLUS you’ll love the author’s Fig, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Panini recipe.

J.M. Hirsch, food editor for The Associated Press

Photo by Matthew Mead

In High Flavor Low Labor, author J.M. Hirsch and his adorable young son (who is depicted throughout the book) leverage “the Parmesan cheeses, balsamic vinegars, jalapeños, chorizos and wasabis of the world” to create high-flavor meals that can be prepared in a relatively short amount of time. Mercifully, he avoids the phrase “quick and easy.” In truth they are, but the emphasis of the book is really where it ought to be: on great-tasting food.

Among the recipes I’ve tried so far:

  • Baked Breaded Eggplant with Marinara – The panko crunch is terrific. I sliced the eggplant into strips for my two-year-old, who enjoyed the “sticks”.
  • Red Curry Beef – I’m still pretty new to making my own curries, but I found myself devouring this one. It was almost like a Thai sloppy joe, served over fragrant jasmine rice.
  • Orecchiette Pasta with Wilted Greens – I love the subtle flavor of anchovies in pasta dishes. This one has kale as well, so I didn’t have to come up with a separate vegetable to serve. Bonus!
  • Chicken Mole – This recipe was very rich and tasty but the chicken was not quite as succulent as my favorite mole poblano from Lotería Grill in Los Angeles. Of course, that takes many hours to achieve – this is very good for just 20 minutes of simmering.

If I had one criticism of the book it would be its use of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It’s all a matter of personal preference, but mine – particularly if big flavor is my goal – is always bone-in, skin-on and usually dark meat. Obviously, it’s very easy to substitute whichever cut you prefer. Oh, and he takes a little dig at “silly” panini presses. That’s okay, J.M. – I still loved your sweet and savory Fig, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Panini! I’ve shared the recipe at the bottom of this post.


Win a copy of High Flavor Low Labor!

To enter: Leave a comment on this post with your favorite flavor boosting ingredient you like to use when you cook. (For me, I tend to use balsamic vinegar and cinnamon quite a bit).

The giveaway ends Monday, September 20, 2010 at 12 PM PDT. [THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED] The winner will be announced by Tuesday, September 21, 2010. One entry per person, please. Due to shipping costs, you must have a U.S. or Canadian address to be eligible.


Fig, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Panini

Fig, Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Panini
From High Flavor Low Labor, by J.M. Hirsch. Reprinted with permission.

Makes 2 servings

4-ounce log chevre (soft goat cheese)
4 slices rustic multigrain bread
2 tablespoons fig jam
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
4 slices prosciutto
1 tablespoon butter


Spread a quarter of the goat cheese over one side of each slice of bread.

Spread 1 tablespoon fig jam over the goat cheese on 2 of the slices.

Scatter the oregano over the fig jam, then top it with prosciutto, then the
remaining slices of bread, cheese side down.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the
sandwiches, then set a heavy or weighted pan over them. Cook until the
bread is lightly browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes.

Remove the top pan, flip the sandwiches, then replace the top pan and
cook for about another 2 minutes.

(My note: Alternatively, if you use a panini grill like I do, you can just heat it to medium-high and grill for about 3-4 minutes.)

The book’s publisher is providing one copy to me for review and one for the reader giveaway.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

>Ready to buy a panini press? Check out my Panini Press Buying Guide for the features to look for.

>Want more panini recipes? See my Recipe Index for a list of all recipes on Panini Happy.

>Traveling to a new city soon? Browse Panini Happy’s Great American Sandwich Guide to find the best sandwiches across the country!

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sara September 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I like using a little bit of pancetta, cooked until crispy, on top of lots of things. It has that good bacon-y flavor, but is cut so thinly that it doesn’t add a ton of calories.
sara´s last blog post ..Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding Tamales


2 Sophia Lee September 16, 2010 at 2:24 am

GOCHUJANG! I’m a hard-core gochujang fan. It gives such a sweet, yet spicy, an utterly complex kick!


3 Melissa September 16, 2010 at 3:17 am

Does garlic count? I seem to add it to everything!


4 Tom September 16, 2010 at 4:26 am

I put garlic in everything…my girlfriend is not too happy about it though.


5 Tara Sabo September 16, 2010 at 4:27 am

Vanilla extract from Mexico. Seriously, it’s the best VE you’ll ever use.


6 Michelle September 16, 2010 at 7:08 am

I use cumin constantly. I probably put cumin in things that have no business having it, but I love it.


7 Michelle September 16, 2010 at 7:24 am

Love to use sundried tomatoes & balsamic vinegar & kalamata olives!


8 sara September 16, 2010 at 7:30 am

i like to use a lot of garlic!!


9 Loren September 16, 2010 at 7:37 am

For baking, I frequently turn to vanilla and cinnamon, even though I know there are lots of great combinations out there. For cooking, I love adding parmesan to many of my dishes. I just made spaghetti squash with a little butter, parmesan, salt and pepper and it was just perfect!


10 jordan September 16, 2010 at 7:37 am

garlic (in almost anything!) or balsamic vinegar (one that is thick and very good quality) for drizzling just before serving 🙂


11 Susan Anderson September 16, 2010 at 7:38 am

My favorite flavor booster is green chilies.


12 lauren September 16, 2010 at 7:40 am

When baking, definitely chocolate in some form. When cooking, probably a seasoned salt.
lauren´s last blog post ..Steakhouse Potato Salad


13 Amy September 16, 2010 at 7:41 am

I like to use garlic in tons of things!


14 Mindy September 16, 2010 at 7:42 am

Depending on the dish, I like balsamic vinegar or a splash of soy sauce. I’m also totally making this panini…I have an overabundance of fig jam in my fridge right now. 🙂
Mindy´s last blog post ..Our Weekly Menu- September 12-18- 2010


15 Darlene September 16, 2010 at 7:52 am

Dijon mustard! Esp on broiled chicken, and if I combine with olive oil, garlic, and lemon, I put it on fish. It immediately deepens the flavors.


16 carole September 16, 2010 at 7:54 am

Gotta be garlic…


17 peter sinish September 16, 2010 at 7:57 am

this time of year fresh basil and chocolate always find a way into my cuisine.


18 Foodelf September 16, 2010 at 7:57 am

Sherry vinegar and/or fresh lemon juice just brightens and wakes up all the flavours in a dish.


19 Lisa O Shea September 16, 2010 at 8:02 am

My favourite is garlic, especially in chicken dishes, yum yum!!


20 Cindy September 16, 2010 at 8:12 am

If I have to narrow down to one ingredient i use in everything it would be salt. i may not always use a lot of but it’s something i think definitely adds flavor when you need it.


21 Ericka H. September 16, 2010 at 8:16 am

I use balsamic alot myself, but I use a lot of cayenne too.


22 jessica September 16, 2010 at 8:37 am

I add garlic in everything!


23 Dick Bennett September 16, 2010 at 8:59 am

I like using anchovies. While most people don’t like their taste, when added in moderation they add to the richness of the flavor. I have used them in combination with garlic in many vegetables including beans and broccoli to boost their flavor. Add olive oil to a pan, mince both the garlic and anchovies saute for a minute or two and add the cooked vegetables.


24 Dan September 16, 2010 at 9:01 am

Hi Kathy:
Two flavor boosters I turned to often are nutmeg, and, like most other folks, garlic. Nutmeg is great in soups, stews, sauces……….very subtle.
Dan´s last blog post ..TravelSpotlight- More Regional consolidation at Delta CLE at risk @CAPA http-bitly-c9umZK


25 Colleen September 16, 2010 at 10:33 am

I’m a fan of good bacon. Adds a wonderful salty richness.


26 Mandi September 16, 2010 at 11:01 am

I’d have to say my favorite is garlic or basil … but most of all I like to change things up and try different flavors.
Mandi´s last blog post ..Day 9- Homemade Fish Sticks


27 Samantha Long September 16, 2010 at 11:10 am

I love to use rosemary..great for meat and potatos.


28 Lisa September 16, 2010 at 11:22 am

I love hot peppers and seracha sauce on just about everything.


29 audrey September 16, 2010 at 11:28 am

I love to throw a touch of fresh mint into everything that I cook. It adds a really fresh flavor to everything and it cleanses the pallet as well. By the way, using goat cheese and figs, sooooooo yummy! I stuff my dates with goat cheese, great snack and appetizer.


30 Krista September 16, 2010 at 11:37 am

I like to use cinnamon too and vinegars. Both seem to add a bit to any dish you can make.
Krista´s last blog post ..Its been a while


31 Vicki September 16, 2010 at 11:54 am

I usually go for some kind of chile. Or lemon juice to perk things up.
Vicki´s last blog post ..Wasabi Sushi- Vista CA


32 Susan September 16, 2010 at 11:55 am

I love basil. It gives so much flavoe to all kinds of foods.


33 Erica Hebel September 16, 2010 at 11:56 am

A small amount of bacon is a very tasty addition to recipes. I also add chicken stock to a lot of things.


34 Julie @ Willow Bird Baking September 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm

That panini does look heavenly.

My favorite flavor-boosting flavor is garlic, for sure. In baking, it’s almond extract.
Julie @ Willow Bird Baking´s last blog post ..Croissant Masters Round 3


35 Amy September 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I cook with a lot of garlic. I also use red pepper flakes to add some zing. Vinegars, for sure. Pancetta or Prosciutto are always great ways to bring on more flavor. Pretty much what everyone else said! (Mustard is such a great/easy way too, but my palate hasn’t really gotten on board with that one yet.) So, I don’t know about the rest of the cookbook, but the panini you highlighted? Swooooon.
Amy´s last blog post ..Simple Sesame Noodles- and an Insanity workout


36 Heidi September 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I use a pinch of love, just kidding couldn’t resist.

I know this is a given but “kosher salt” is what I add to most everything, is that too obvious? Garlic would be next.

Love your blog, you are the reason I started making bread when you mentioned “bread in 5” for a panini, changed my life! Thank you so much!


37 Alexandra September 16, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I’m so not original it seems, but I love garlic, olive oil, rosemary as well as lavender (on chicken).


38 Joan September 16, 2010 at 3:51 pm

I like to spice things up a bit by adding a shake or two of red pepper flakes to many dishes.


39 Sabrina September 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Definitely garlic!!!!!!


40 Ivy September 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm

I love adding balsamic and red wine vinegars to any tomato-based sauce/soup/stew. I think it adds another dimension of flavor along with lots of fresh herbs.


41 Karen September 16, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Hmm, depends on what I am making! Vanilla or almond extract for baking…..finely ground mustard for salad dressings…..a dash of soy sauce or Worchestere for meats….and garlic salt always adds a little kick….nothing too exciting really.
Karen´s last blog post ..ITS A


42 Sharon September 16, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Caramelized onions, garlic and balsamic vinegar. I chop up basil and put it on almost everything. A sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan is never a bad addition.


43 Cheryl September 16, 2010 at 6:17 pm

I just got home from work and all the recipes you mentioned sounds yummy! I’ll have one of each, please. I hope to win this cookbook, all figs are my favorite fruit. Incorporating them into a meal is the smart thing to do to have your 5 servings of fruits and vegies.


44 Robert September 16, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I’m a big fan of cumin. Depends on what I’m making of course, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a flavor that can’t be beat!


45 HG September 16, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I love love love annatto for soups, though I think it may boost the color more than flavor!


46 April in CT September 17, 2010 at 5:01 am

I’m crazy over cumin!


47 Linda J September 17, 2010 at 6:41 am

My favorites are pretty simple. I always start with pepper – and a little salt. Other things may get added later, but those are first.


48 Sophie Hung September 17, 2010 at 11:18 am

For savory dishes, I’ve found that a little bit of toasted ground coriander seed adds a delicious flavor to pretty much anything, especially Mexican and Asian foods.

For desserts and other sweets, Penzey’s double strength pure vanilla extract is liberally added to everything. 😀


49 Terri September 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I use a lot of garlic…love it…


50 grace September 17, 2010 at 4:39 pm

nothing tops cinnamon for me!


51 dineindiva September 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Salt and Pepper can not be underestimated and are often underused.
dineindiva´s last blog post ..Gadget Love- Potato &amp Garlic Storage Bags


52 deb September 18, 2010 at 3:37 am

I love using fresh garlic. The Panini recipe looks fabulous. Went to the store to buy figs and no one had any……..(one of the many trials of living in podunk)


53 Deborah Frans September 18, 2010 at 11:26 am

I like to brush the bread with basil flavored olive oil and then ‘dust’ it with parmesean cheese.


54 Theresa N September 18, 2010 at 1:36 pm

My favorite is rosemary.


55 vickshi September 18, 2010 at 7:02 pm

can’t beat salt and garlic as taste enhancers!


56 Jennifer Sikora September 19, 2010 at 4:55 am

My all time favorite go to flavor booster is lemon and pepper and garlic salt!

Hope I win 🙂


57 susitravl September 19, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I use cilantro a lot – we eat Mexican Food often.

And GARLIC – couldn’t live without it.



58 Baebara September 19, 2010 at 8:07 pm

I use good old kosher salt but also a good squeez of lemon it brightens everything up. We can all use a little help on what to get on the table.


59 Lori @ RecipeGirl September 20, 2010 at 6:38 am

I totally need a copy of this book. Things have been crazy lately & I can’t stand dinner time!! I use balsamic a lot too, but I’d probably have to say Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Lori @ RecipeGirl´s last blog post ..Roasted Pumpkin Bisque w- Mushroom- Gruyere Crostini


60 Ashlee September 20, 2010 at 8:10 am

Freshly ground peppercorn medley. Never underestimate the power of something as simple as pepper 🙂
Ashlee´s last blog post ..The 10 Challenge- Cafe Lou Lou


61 Beth September 20, 2010 at 8:30 am

I tend to use garlic salt quite a bit, and when appropriate, red pepper flakes!


62 Karen Gold September 20, 2010 at 9:04 am

Please enter me in the contest!! I like toasted sesame oil!


63 Marie McQuade September 20, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Hi there, I love fresh lemon zest and juice and flavoured salt – tangerine salt, lavender salt, garlic salt…. and I soooo need this book


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