eat: veggie-packed panini

I told Brooke that I need to start eating before viewing her posts for the blog…but my mouth is still watering. Do you not wish you had packed this for lunch??

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{By Brooke} Since I’ve already covered breakfast and dinner, I thought I’d give you a quick and easy lunch, using one of my favorite kitchen tools — the handy dandy panini press. I use my panini press for grilling all kinds of things (veggies, burgers, fish, etc), but making panini sandwiches is what the little guy does best.

I love the ridges and crispiness created by the press. But if you don’t have a panini press, you could always make the sandwich in a frying pan over the stove, using a plate or a potato masher to press the sandwich down!

All right, now let’s get down to business. Here’s my guide to making a healthier version of a pa-pa-panini.

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Start with your fixin’s. I think the ultimate panini needs five elements:

  1. quality bread
  2. a quality cheese
  3. some crunch
  4. some creaminess
  5.  an extra flavor punch.

For my sandwich, I chose a quality sourdough bread and Provolone cheese. I got crunch from red peppers and zucchini (plus spinach) and creaminess from the avocado. The extra flavor punch came in by adding a drizzle of creamy balsamic dressing, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

After assembling the sandwich, simply place it on the heated panini press, pull the lever down and wait for the light to turn green. I made my sandwich healthier by eliminating the butter. The panini press makes the sandwich crisp without needing any extra fat.

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Now slice and enjoy with some fresh fruit. Voila!

Other combos I’ve tried:

  1.  Goat cheese and pesto with roasted red peppers on cracked wheat bread
  2. Mozzarella, sliced pear, spinach, walnuts and spicy mustard on wheat bread
  3. Cheddar cheese and apple with salt and pepper on sourdough bread
  4. Feta cheese with spinach, avocado and balsamic on wheat bread

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