Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Portobello Mushroom Panini

This past week at Henry's Market, a two-pack of portobello mushrooms were on sale for $2.50 each. Not Earth-shattering prices but I thought it would be fun to play around with some good 'shrooms. For whatever reason, all I could think about were portobello paninis. I threw in some other veggies for extra interest and on my husband's, added sliced leftover New York steak. (Why do some men think they need meat at every meal? Oy vey!) The red peppers were $.50 each and the zucchini was pretty darn cheap too, if I remember correctly, $1 per lb. Bags of Spinach were buy one get one free at Vons.

I added a few extra steps to the sandwich making process. It took a while but I thought it was worth it. You can take the short cuts if you would like, I won't judge.

Here's how it all went down in the kitchen:

Sandwich Ingredients:

2 ciabatta rolls, sliced open sandwich style

2 portobello mushrooms, marinaded 

1 zucchini, sliced thin length wise, marinaded

1 handful of fresh spinach

1 red pepper or canned roasted red pepper

1.5 to 2 ounces of soft spreadable cheese per sandwich - I used Fromager D'Affinois for Rees and Cypress Grove Chevre Log for mine

Mayonnaise to taste (optional)

Veggie marinade:

2/3 cup Extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 sprigs fresh thyme

salt and pepper

Extra special equipment:

Panini press - you can also use a heavy pan or even a foil wrapped brick to get a similar effect.


Turn on your broiler to high heat if you have the option.

Prepare the marinade first. In a freezer size zip lock bag, combine evoo, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, thyme and salt and pepper. Seal it up and give it a good shake. Add the portobellos and sliced zucchini, seal it up again and give it another good shake. Let marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

The roasted red peppers are up next. If you have the already roasted peppers, skip this step. If not, arrange your peppers on a baking sheet and slather with evoo and season with some salt and pepper. Place the peppers directly under the broiler and keep an eye on them. This part can go kinda fast. You're looking for the peppers to get a char on the outside. That means they're going to be a little black on the outside. That's a good thing. Rotate the peppers so that all sides get the beautiful char love. Once complete, take them out and place the peppers on a plate or in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. The steam will help the thick outer skin to separate from the meaty pepper part. See, I wasn't going to make you eat burnt pepper after all. The separation process can take any where from 10 to 15 minutes. Once ready, remove the plastic wrap and peel off the skin. Watch out, the pepper will still probably be quite hot. Remove the top and the seeds and slice the roasted peppers length-wise. Set aside until it's sandwich arranging time.

Start preheating your panini press if necessary. My press needs a good 10 minutes to get properly fired up. I used it to grill my marinaded veggies before making the sandwiches.

With the grill/panini knob turned on and the temperature on medium, I grilled the portobellos and zucchinis until they had nice grill marks on both sides.

Next up, slice your ciabatta rolls or baguette in half. Spread with your creamy cheese of choice (Your cheese will spread better if you let it sit out for a little bit so it can come to room temperature. It also tastes more flavorful that way.) Add your grilled veggies next, then your spinach and roasted red pepper. Spread some mayo on the bread side that is naked and press down. This is important. You want to make sure that your ingredients aren't going to slide off the sandwich once you get it to the panini press. Once you feel good about your sandwich, brush some olive oil on the top and bottom and put it on the press.

For whatever reason I like to hold down my press although I realized this was totally unnecessary. I guess it made me feel like I was full-contact cooking, which is fun. All together, the sandwiches were on the press for about 7 minutes.

Slice the sandwiches in half and enjoy! I served our paninis with potato chips and a salad. Yum, yum, yum!

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