Monday, September 21, 2009

Gordon Ramsay's Pan-Roasted Vegetable Panini

My four year old son said something just the other day that makes me feel like this isn't for naught:

"Mommy, you're a really nice chef ... and a princess, too."

My heart felt so good. Can you imagine?

O.K. Another sandwich recipe from Ramsay. But, I'm not complaining about this one. This one hit a home run with me and Carlo. The twins, however, didn't like it. They're 4. It was full of vegetable. No peanut butter or jelly. Should I say more?

Zucchini, red and yellow bell pepper, red onion, thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper, pine nuts, basil pesto, fresh parmesan and "panini buns". O.k. I had no idea what Ramsay was talking about, so I bought some ciabatta rolls.

I don't think I've ever had such good ciabatta rolls before. In the past they've always been hard, tough, chewy. These were pillowy soft, doughy, floury, full of air. They were perfect.

I lightly toasted the pine nuts. (Yeah! I didn't burn them -- in fact, they could have been a little darker.)

Chop the veggies.

This pepper was so juicy it stained my fingernails. Note to self: buy some disposable rubber gloves for cooking.

I bought this onion at a farmers' market. It was perfect. How can a red onion be perfect? It smelled oniony. It seeped its oniony juice when I cut into it. It made my kitchen smell like I was a real cook.

Saute the onion with the thyme until just soft.

Add all the other veggies and saute about 10 minutes until everything is soft and reduced a bit in volume. You know when it's cooked enough when the veggies start emitting a wonderful roasted aroma. The edges were just starting to brown up a bit. You get to that point right where you begin to wonder if you leave it on for 5 more minutes, it would burn. You know that point, right?
Slather the pesto on the bread. I opted only one side, but Ramsay recommends covering both halves. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top (I crushed my just a bit.)

Shave the parmesan.

Cover the pesto and nuts (or to taste).

Heap the roasted veggies on top. Add more cheese if you want. In my book -- there is never too much cheese, especially the melty gooey kind.

I don't have an official panini grill, but my Foreman grill worked like a charm.
I'd say I grilled the sandwiches about 3 minutes each, putting slow but firm pressure on the lid to help compress the sandwich. This is were all those wonderful pockets of air in the ciabatta really worked their magic.

Yes. It looks great. It tasted even better. This sandwich was well-balanced in terms of taste and texture.

It inspired me, in thought only though, to think of other types of sandwiches:

A tex-mex version would be really good. Some spice mix, sauteed marinated strip steak, sauteed onions and peppers, loads of pepper-jack cheese. Create a dipping sauce for this one with ranch dressing and cumin (or taco seasonin).

Or a type of Philly Cheese Steak (with steak or chicken) where I'd saute or carmelize some onions with a little green pepper, mushrooms, melt some cheddar, spread bbq sauce on it.

Or even just use the pan-roasted veggies, add some diced left-over chicken and instead of the basil pesto, try it with an artichoke based pesto or spread.
Oh, my mouth is watering.
So --

How long? About 35 minutes. We have a winner.

"Pan-Roasted Vegetable Panini -- Done."

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