Thursday, June 02, 2011

Panini Houdini + Sweet Potato Rounds

Good morning!

Over the holiday weekend, Andy and I went grocery shopping together to pick up some fresh food for the week. I loaded up on my usual staples, along with a few other new things such as edamame (love it!), a Italian garlic parmesan loaf, and zucchini (love it, but always forget to buy it).

It was the parmesan loaf and zucchini that were the stars of the recipe that I am about to share with you. I ate this sandwich many times over the weekend and it disappeared quickly because it is just that good.

First of all, what is a panini? A panini sandwich is one that is pressed while it is cooking and is served hot. Typically it is grilled and often has grill marks on both sides of the bread due to the pressing process.

Now that we're all on the same page, let's make one!

Gather up your ingredients:
  • Ciabatta, French, or Italian bread
  • Turkey, ham, or chicken (You could even do an all-veggie one if you so wish)
  • Cheese of your choice (I used Colby Jack brick cheese)
  • 1 roma tomato
  • Sliced pickles--the more the merrier!
  • 1/4 of an avocado
  • 1/3 of a zucchini
  • Wedge of a lime
  • Small handful of cilantro
  • 1 sweet potato
  • Carrots or additional sides of your choice
First things first: slice a chunk of bread into 3 parts horizontally. Since paninis are generally a thin sandwich with a lot of fillings rather than a lot of bread, you'll want to remove the middle portion of your bread to make it easier to flatten during the cooking process. 

Don't worry, your middle slice of bread won't go to waste--it is perfect for making homemade croutons, using for another type of sandwich, or dunking into some olive oil.

Next up, slice your sweet potato into small silver dollars. When you have finished, transfer them onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, making sure they are not overlapping.

Pop your tray into the oven at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, flipping them over halfway through to ensure even cooking and crispiness.

After your potatoes are in the oven, grab your cilantro and chop it as course or as fine as you'd like. I prefer mine slightly coarse, but whatever floats your boat will do just fine.

Transfer your chopped cilantro into a small bowl along with your avocado and the juice from the lime. Then proceed by mixing it all together until you have reached your desired consistency. 

This mock-guac is super fresh and provides a great zip to your sandwich. Next, spread this gooey mixture onto one half of your sandwich. If you're not a fan of the green stuff, you can skip this step and use butter, pesto, or mayo instead.

You may then proceed with slicing your zucchini similar to how you sliced your sweet potato earlier--in small, even-sized rounds. Next, assemble your lightly greased pan as shown below:

Bread with mock-guac, zucchinis with salt and pepper, turkey, other slice of bread with cheese on top. I use a small griddle pan with grooves in it because it keeps things from getting soggy and I like how it leaves a nice grill mark on everything. I cook up the turkey separate from the sandwich to ensure it gets hot enough while the zucchini rounds fry up on their own as well to keep them from staying too crunchy.

After cooking on medium heat for approximately 5 minutes (flipping the turkey and zucchini halfway through), combine everything onto the bread:

Carefully add the rest of your sandwich toppings onto the half with the meat and cheese before adding your mock-guac covered bread on top.

Next, turn up the heat on your stove from medium to high and smash your sandwich ever so gently with a frying pan or a small plate. 

This keeps it flat while it cooks without burning your hands. Push down lightly and cook it until the sandwich is about half the height it originally was (about 2 minutes). You'll want to do this on both sides of the sandwich to make sure your cheese gets melty and both sides of the bread get toasted.

As soon as it is finished cooking, plate it up along with your sweet potato rounds, carrot sticks, and/or additional sides of your choosing. Serve hot.

So delicious!

There you have it--a simple twist on a turkey sandwich. Another combo that I am anxious to try is a chicken breast + fresh basil + mozzarella panini! These are easy to customize with your favorite veggies and sandwich fillings--the possibilities are endless!

What are your favorite things to put on a sandwich? 
Do you like pickles?


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