Crostini e Panini con Robiola, Noci, Menta e Mortadella

The very first thing I learned about the Italian language is the alphabet. Uuhhhm.  I'm lying.  It's the second thing.  I don't need to say that I learned the bad words first, like every single person learning a new language.  I sang the alphabet to help me remember it fast, remnants of the style of memorization when I was a kid.  The song is the translated version of the English alphabet so I breezed through the whole thing. I just stall at the 5 missing English letters at the Italian alphabet.  Do you know that there are only 21 letters to the Italian alphabet as opposed to the 26 letters of its English counterpart?   There are no J, K, W, X and Y 

But nowadays, there are some foreign words, mostly English, used in the Italian language that use these letters and for that, they are already being integrated to the alphabet.  J is pronounced like a Y in English (in most cases) and W is like V in English.  That is one of the reasons why I stopped referring to myself with my nickname because Weng starts with W and doesn't end with a vowel so when they have to say my name, there's always a reluctance of saying it.  It seems grammatically incorrect!  It always comes out as Venk.  Rowena is friendlier to the tongue so I use it more.  

I'm doing a third round of learning the alphabet again because of my two kids.  My 2nd grader almost knows it by heart and my pre-schooler is starting to echo the letters but in a hallucinating order.  Only, they never adopted my style of memorization.  When I start the first few chords of the alphabet song, they look at me like I'm a misplaced character of The Sound of Music.  It's their loss. 

Now, to the panini (sandwiches) and crostiniThe protagonist of these recipes is robiola, a soft-ripened cheese that made with varying proportions of cow's, goat's and sheep's milk.  It has a mild taste and belongs to the stracchino family.  Since I am not a lover of fresh cheese, I never eat robiola alone.  When I mix it with walnuts and mint, a whole new world opens up for me.  It is wonderful.  The subtle hints of walnuts, mint and robiola together is very pleasing to the palate. 

Aside from simply spreading the robiola on toasted bread to serve as crostino, you can also enjoy it with some slices of mortadella in a panino, sprinkled with pistachios.  Mortadella comes in two versions, with and without pistachios.  

If storing robiola in the fridge, do not wrap it in plastic because it won't be able to breathe and it will spoil fast.  It is best to keep it unwrapped or wrapped in paper where it can breathe and should be used within a week from purchase.  

Buon appetito!

Crostini e Panini con Robiola, Noci, Menta e Mortadella

1 whole baguette makes around 16 crostini or 4 panini (sandwiches)
  • 170 grams robiola
  • 2 - 3 fresh mint leaves + some for garnish
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons crushed walnuts + some for garnish
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • crushed pistachios for garnish
  • 1 baguette
  • 8 slices mortadella (for making 4 panini using 1/4 of the baguette each)
  1. In a small bowl, mix the robiola, 1-1/2 tablespoons crushed walnuts, 2 - 3 mint leaves torn to little pieces, salt & pepper.
  2. Slice the baguette according to what you want to do, panini or crostini.  
  3. If you are making panini, cut the baguette to 4 equal portions horizontally then halve each piece vertically.   Spread some robiola mixture then put a couple of slices of mortadella per panino.  Sprinkle with crushed pistachios.  
  4. If you are making crostini, slice the bread then toast them in the oven for 5 - 6 minutes, both sides at 200 degrees Celsius. You can also toast them on a non-stick saucepan or in a bread toaster.  Spread the robiola mixture.  Garnish with crushed walnuts and fresh mint leaves.