Saturday, October 6, 2012

Avocado, Spinach, and Sun-dried Tomato Panini

Every once in a while I browse Vegetarian Times' website for recipes.  They have a pretty decent selection of vegan recipes, though, as I've said before, most recipes contain dairy products.  The other day I found an intriguing panini recipe: what I like most about it is that it doesn't assume I have a panini maker (I don't).  Plus, anything with sun-dried tomatoes and avocado catches my eye.     

The perfect summer sandwich--even in October.
Here's the Vegetarian Times recipe with a few of my own adjustments.

Avocado, Spinach, and Sun-dried Tomato Paninis
  • 1 - 8.5 ounce jar julienned sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 3 avocados, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 cups lightly packed baby spinach
  • 6 ciabatta rolls, cut in half

First, use a fork to remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the oil; set aside.  Next, layer each roll with  avocado, sun-dried tomato, onion, and 1/2  cup spinach.  Then lightly spray the exterior of each roll with cooking spray.  

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Place one or two paninis in the pan and weight them down with a smaller-diameter saucepan weighted with one or two cans.  Cook for about two minutes, remove the weight, carefully flip the paninis using a spatula, replace the weight, and cook for another two minutes.

(If you do have a panini maker, cook for four minutes using the panini maker.)

Cut in half and serve.  Yields 6 paninis.


Our paninis struggled a bit because our rolls were pretty small (they were square-shaped and maybe four inches wide).  It was difficult to keep all of the ingredients in the panini, let alone get all of the ingredients together in one bite.  As a result, I recommend using medium or large ciabatta rolls to ensure the structural soundness of each panini. 
When all of the ingredients did come together, it was a delicious bite.  The firm, toasty bread contrasted nicely with the smooth avocado, and the sun-dried tomatoes added a smoky, sweet flavor.  
We had trouble finding appropriately-sized ciabatta rolls at our regular grocery store (it doesn't have the greatest bakery section).  Everything else was easy to find, though the ingredients are a bit expensive as far as sandwiches go. 
 Ease of Preparation:         
While assembling the sandwich is quick and easy, it was a little difficult to flip the paninis in the pan without spilling some ingredients.  Again, I think larger rolls would help solve this problem. 
Non-vegan friendliness:         
I could see this panini on the menu of any café or sandwich shop.     

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