Nov 22

Turkey, Brie, Pear & Cherry Chipotle Panini Recipe, Plus A Story of Gratitude

Turkey, Brie, Pear & Cherry-Chipotle Panini Recipe

Have no fear, this post will indeed be about Thanksgiving feast leftovers. In fact, it will be about a panini sandwich, filled with turkey, oozing melted Brie cheese, sweet pear, and a sauce with a sweet kick – a mixture of cherry jam and smoky chipotle peppers, to be exact. However, I ask you to indulge me for a moment as I reflect on the meaning of the Thanksgiving season (at least here in my adopted home of the United States). It is a time of gratitude, of expressing our thanks for the good things in life, of spending time with family and friends.

Each year, we ask our two boys what they are thankful for. When they were very young, the objects of their gratitude were typically their most treasured stuffed animals or their favorite cookies. As they grow and mature, their understanding and appreciation of the world has expanded. This year, their lists include our family (every family member, including cats, dog, and fish were named), their friends, and “the earth”. Okay, there may have also been a mention or two of their Star Wars movies and favorite NFL quarterbacks. They are passionate about the people and things they love, innocently and honestly proclaiming their dedication. Unlike the jaded adults they live with (yes, that would be my husband and me), they express their gratitude on a daily basis, not waiting for a national holiday to reflect on the good things in life.

Turkey Brie Sandwich Collage - Boys

Last week, the boys brought home a note from school. It was a plea to all of the families to help one of their own. A 10-year old boy, only one year older than my eldest son, has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and the disease has reached an advanced stage. His one wish is to make a trip to Disneyland with his family, which his family can not afford. The school administration asked us, if we felt so compelled, to reach into our pockets and give what we could to make this young boy’s wish come true. My reaction was deep sadness for the life this boy will never get to experience and heartbreak for his parents. Apparently my husband, kids and I were not the only ones to feel that way. The community rallied and the boy’s wish will be granted. I came away thinking to myself, “Why does it take a story such as this to really appreciate my kids and to be grateful for the time I have with them?”


You can not live for almost 40 years (enter heart palpitations) without experiencing some loss and family health scares. Inevitably, at some time in the process of dealing with these situations, I make a silent promise to appreciate each day, each moment that I spend with my loved ones. For several weeks afterwards, I make a conscious effort to soak in those moments and to be vividly aware of every conversation and unspoken emotion. As time moves on, I once again become absorbed with daily problems which, in the scheme of things, are rather inconsequential. I try not to be too hard on myself, knowing that it is human nature to live in the present and to be immune to the lessons of our personal histories. That being said, I am determined to take a page from my kids’ books and to find grace and gratitude in the little things. I wish each of you a day full of family, friends, and thanksgiving, and the ability to be grateful for even the smallest gifts each day.

The sauce:

In a small bowl, stir together cherry jam, finely chopped chipotle pepper, and adobo sauce (from chipotle can).


The panini:

Preheat panini press or large grill pan or skillet.


Cut ciabatta rolls in half horizontally. Divide the cherry-chipotle sauce evenly between the four rolls, spreading on top and bottom halves.

On the bottom half of each roll, layer Brie cheese, turkey, pear slices, and spinach leaves. Top with other halves of the rolls.


Place the sandwiches on the panini maker or pan, working in batches if necessary. Close the panini press. If using a grill pan or skillet, place a brick, washed and wrapped in foil, on top of the sandwiches to emulate a panini press. When the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted, remove the sandwiches from the press, cut in half, and serve immediately.


Other turkey sandwiches:

Savory Sweet Life’s Turkey Cranberry Sandwich
Panini Happy’s Turkey Cuban Panini
Closet Cooking’s Turkey Salad Sandwich
Yum Sugar’s Turkey Sandwich with Manchego, Watercress & Pear Butter
For the Love of Cooking’s Open Faced Turkey Sandwich

Turkey, Brie, Pear & Cherry-Chipotle Panini

6 tbsp cherry jam
1 chipotle pepper*, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 tsp adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)

4 ciabatta rolls
4 oz. Brie cheese, sliced
6 oz. sliced roasted turkey
1 large ripe pear, sliced
3/4 cup (packed) fresh spinach leaves

The sauce:

In a small bowl, stir together cherry jam, finely chopped chipotle pepper, and adobo sauce (from chipotle can).

The panini:

Preheat panini press or large grill pan or skillet.

Cut ciabatta rolls in half horizontally. Divide the cherry-chipotle sauce evenly between the four rolls, spreading on top and bottom halves.

On the bottom half of each roll, layer Brie cheese, turkey, pear slices, and spinach leaves. Top with other halves of the rolls.

Place the sandwiches on the panini maker or pan, working in batches if necessary. Close the panini press. If using a grill pan or skillet, place a brick, washed and wrapped in foil, on top of the sandwiches to emulate a panini press. When the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted, remove the sandwiches from the press, cut in half, and serve immediately.

Makes 4 panini.

*Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can be found in the Mexican food section of most well-stocked grocery stores.

Printable recipe

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pegasuslegend November 22, 2010 at 10:26 am

Very very sad for the boy and his family. What a heartache.
Very heartfelt words were never written… better than this post. Sad very sorry to hear that news. We always have to sit back and thank our blessings we do have your right~

Your panini is wonderful…


2 Jenny Sunshine November 22, 2010 at 11:25 am

This looks so yummy! I am sad that I am not cooking turkey day this year and won't have the leftovers!


3 Estela @ Weekly Bite November 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Wow! I want that sandwich! It looks delicious!


4 briarrose November 22, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Wonderful recipe. I love the flavor combination…especially the cherry and chipotle mix. I am a bit of a pepper nut though. ;)


5 Pretend Chef November 22, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I am one of those people who expresses my gratitude on an everyday basis. I make it a point to tell those around me that I love them and express appreciation. Since becoming a parent and realizing exactly what others had told me about time flying really hit home when I blinked and we were celebrating my son's 2nd birthday. Makes you really want to slow down and make time. I wish your family nothing but health, happiness, and safety through the holiday season! That panini looks crave worthy!


6 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. November 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm

This looks fabulous!!


7 Claudia November 22, 2010 at 2:54 pm

I kick myself when I get down about something stupid and remind myself of how fortunate I have been – yes – at my age – huge challenges and sadnesses – but an overwhelming amount of wonders to be grateful for. The post is lovely and from the heart.

The sandwich has just so many perfect flavorings – the cherry chipotle – oh my! Wonderous!


8 Maria November 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Great panini flavor Dara! I am not loving the snow, but I guess it is winter so I should get used to it:) Happy Thanksgiving!


9 Cookin' Canuck November 22, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Claudia (Pegasus) – Stories such as this always make me focus on the important things. I wish I didn't need those reminders.

Jenny – Yes, leftovers are often the best part, aren't they?

Estela, Briarrose, Alison – Thank you!

Pretend Chef – Time really does fly with little ones and it is so important to really savor those moments we have with them.

Claudia – Well said!

Maria – Yes, it looks as though the snow is here to stay. Keep warm!


10 Marisa Lyn November 22, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Dara thanks for the wonderful store about the boy. We hear these stories all the time and it breaks our hearts but then there is always another one waiting in the wings to tug on our heart strings.

I had to stop and think about things after reading the story of the boy. Although prayers are always said for a miracle because he is so young and for us someone dying young is not acceptable. My prayer is that his family has the best time ever together.

Thanks for sharing and that panini looks wonderful.


11 Torviewtoronto November 22, 2010 at 3:42 pm

flavourful panini delicious


12 Ang November 22, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Sometimes our problems seem so big and it's hard to see beyond what we're feeling. Thinking of this young boy reminds me just how small my issues are. I love to hear when communities pull together to give a family such a gift during such a hard time.

On another note, a panini is my favorite type of sandwich and I can't wait to try this one.


13 Judy November 22, 2010 at 5:03 pm

You're absolutely right, Dara, why does it take something so dreadful for us to appreciate what we have? I hope that family will be able to look back on some happy memories when they are grieving.
Thanks for that great recipe too.


14 Tracy November 22, 2010 at 5:45 pm

What a touching post. The panini is absolutely perfect…I'm bookmarking it for the day after Thanksgiving!


15 Lauren November 22, 2010 at 7:22 pm

A "gobbler" sandwich consisting of leftovers is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving! A panini version sounds even better :).


16 Damaris @Kitchen Corners November 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm

today we had pears and cheese and crackers for breakfast. i was only introduced to the glorious taste of cheese and pears last month. I'm in love. I'm also in love with your story of gratitude. thanks for sharing!


17 Amanda November 22, 2010 at 9:10 pm

A beautiful touching story…and a great lookin sandwich. Thanks so much for sharing!


18 jennaseverythingblog November 22, 2010 at 9:15 pm

What a touching story–the beauty of a community coming together paired with the sadness of a life ending too soon. What a good reminder for us to take each day with gratitude!! I also get caught up in the inconsequential far too often.
On a lighter note, the sandwich looks fantastic–thanks for the recipe!


19 Cookin' Canuck November 22, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Marisa, Judy, Jenna – Thank you for your comments. I agree – it would be wonderful if the family could build some positive, lasting memories from their trip together.

Torview, Tracy, Lauren, Amanda – Thank you!

Ang – It was really heartening to hear that the community supported this family. It is easy to become jaded about society in general – until a story of human generosity such as this comes along.

Damaris – Yes, the flavor and texture combination of pears and cheese is unforgettable.


20 marla {family fresh cooking} November 22, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Dara, thanks for this post and this very important message. After my surgery I made it clear to myself that I would slow down & take more time to enjoy my kids & the little things in life. It is so very important.
Awesome that you could help this family in need :) My prayers go out to all of them. xo


21 kelley {mountain mama cooks} November 22, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Wow, what a touching story. I have two boys and life can get so hectic so thank you for sharing and reminding me to slow down and enjoy every moment with them!

AND- that sandwich looks amazing!


22 Jeanette November 22, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Beautifully written post Dara. I was just at a fundraiser for pediatric brain tumors, and it was heart wrenching to see the families who had lost young ones. I try to hit the "reset" button whenever I find myself running around aimlessly. Being aware everyday is a challenge amid all the distractions, but worth it. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving with my family, and treasuring the down time together.


23 Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having November 23, 2010 at 12:52 am

What a heartbreaking story. It's easy to fall into routines and not appreciate the small moments in life that really matter. I guess it's situations like this that remind us the star at Thanksgiving isn't the turkey, but the time spent with loved ones.


24 Nancy November 23, 2010 at 1:32 am


Delicious panini and a very poignant story. My heart aches for this family and I hope that this trip is not the end but the beginning and that this young boy will have many more trips with his family.
One thing that has helped me is to reflect every evening on all my blessings – including two happy and healthy young men.

Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving!!


25 Monet November 23, 2010 at 5:51 am

This post was so moving. You wrote so eloquently about children, about being thankful and about coping with loss and tragedy. I was almost in tears. I'm so glad to hear that your community rallied to give this boy his special trip. Thank you for sharing your lovely sandwich and this touching story/thoughts with me…I hope you have a wonderful week of feasting, thankfulness and family


26 bellini valli November 23, 2010 at 2:19 pm

We definitely do need to appreciate each and every moment and undertsand just how lucky we are. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thnks for sharing your panini recipe.


27 Evan @swEEts November 23, 2010 at 3:01 pm

I think that is absolutely amazing that your community was able to do that for the little boy..

and this panini? Holy goodness.. I don't even know what to say about it except wow.


28 Angie November 23, 2010 at 3:25 pm

What a touching story, and a delicious recipe. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


29 Big Boys Oven November 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm

tru;y exciting to see this panini, and more I just adorw snaow! ;)


30 Trish November 23, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Thank you for sharing that story and reminding me to be thankful. Sometimes I carried away by all the edible delicacies associated with the holiday. We all have much to be thankful for. The panini is a fabulous leftover idea.


31 Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker November 23, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Mmm love this leftover sandwich!


32 Rita November 23, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Love ideas to use my Griddler. I don<t have turkey right now, but I am trying this one with letover ham. Nice to find a great blog from Canada.


33 Pacheco Patty November 23, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Thanks for the touching reminder that we have many things in life to be thankful for all year long.
I love a turkey sandwich after Thanksgiving and I think you've just shared one of the best looking turkey sandwiches I've ever seen;)


34 Suzanne aka vivisue November 24, 2010 at 12:51 am

For those that "skip all the story" and go straight to the recipe, all I can say is they really miss some great stories – THIS being one of the best yet! The pictures of your family are endearing and the panini looks amazing! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, your family and your culinary prowess with us all! I, for one, am very thankful for that! :)


35 Robyn November 24, 2010 at 3:41 am

Dara, what a heartbreaking reminder to us all. We rush through our days until we're quickly reminded to slow down and enjoy the Legos in the floor and crumbs under the table. They are fleeting.


36 Chef Basket November 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm

This panini looks great! Thanks for the recipe.


37 Mother Rimmy November 24, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Stories like this bring tears to your eyes, and gratitude to your heart for every day we have with family. Thank you for the reminder.

The panini is simple and mouthwatering.

Happy Thanksgiving. :)


38 warmvanillasugar November 25, 2010 at 11:54 am

Beautiful story. It really made me think about what's important in life – family, friends, and being good to your neighbors in general. Thanks for posting this.

Also, amazing recipe. I will for sure be trying it :)


39 danasfoodforthought November 26, 2010 at 4:27 am

This post has totally inspired me! I am ridiculously full right now, but I'm still looking forward to tomorrow so I can make something delicious out of the leftovers. Yum!


40 Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris November 27, 2010 at 7:13 am

That panini is a dream-come-true !! Congrats for being in GourmetLive!!


41 Megan November 27, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Very heart warming and so true! Life does have a way of absorbing us and making us forget for a while. Thanks for the reminder!

I wish I had this sandwich sitting in front of me and I was thanking you for the sammy but…I guess I'll have to go make one! :)


42 Kevin December 7, 2010 at 2:38 am

Now this its a turkey sandwich!


43 How To: Simplify December 12, 2010 at 5:30 am

Wow, this looks amazing!


44 Deborah Doebereiner November 28, 2013 at 5:30 am

Happy Thanksgiving, I will be using your blog this year to help me get back on track, lost 8lbs already, thank you. Debbie


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