Kale and Melted Cheese Panini

Kale and Melted Cheese Panini

Kale and Melted Cheese Panini

Farmer’s Markets are starting to open or move outdoors now that the weather has warmed up.  I’m tired of making do with supermarket produce, even if some of it is locally grown.  I love going to the open market and seeing first-hand the stalls and rows of fresh vegetables. So on most Thursdays I’ll be part of the crowd strolling in the sunlight from stall to stall, with my bags and basket in hand.  I’ve gotten to know a few of the vendors, so we chat and they keep me informed as to what’s in season right now, right here.  Local to me means having been grown in a 25 mile radius of where I live.

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Dinner inspiration waits at every turn.   A bunch of dark green kale and a juicy early tomato go into my bag.  These will be layered with melty cheese in a savory, cheesy panini.  (today’s post)  I have plans for using the rest of the kale in a  meatless meal that will soon be appearing on these pages also.    Rhubarb goes into my bag next,  ooooh, so many things to make with rhubarb.  What shall be first?   Asparagus, standing in tall bunches, just waiting for me.   Again, I have so many ideas of what to do with them.  Oh, I’m happy.  I’m doing the happy dance!!   1-2-3-cha,cha, cha.

For this vegetarian panini sandwich, layers of sautéed kale, garden-fresh tomatoes and a fine melting cheese get toasted to ultra-deliciousness.  Gruyère or fontina have complex flavors and melt beautifully, but any cheese you have on hand will do.  I particularly like muenster cheese as it too melts nicely, and has a mild nutty flavor that blends with the other flavors of this sandwich.  For anyone who absolutely must have some meat in their sandwich, well, a little bacon never hurt anything, and  it makes a great addition.  As you can see by the photos, I did just that!

KALE AND MELTED CHEESE PANINI

Yield:   makes 4 servingsIMG_7461

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 slices country bread (1/4 inch thick), preferably whole wheat
  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère or fontina cheese ( or any other cheese of choice)
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into 8 thin slices
  • 2 slices precooked bacon/sandwich (optional)

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Directions:

1.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 5 – 7 minutes.  Add vinegar and cook until almost evaporated, about 1 minute.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Onion and garlic sautéed with balsamic vinegar.

Onion and garlic sautéed with balsamic vinegar.

Add kale, water and salt  (the pan will be full).  Stir, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is wilted and the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Add the kale and cook until it is wilted.

Add the kale and cook until it is wilted.

2.  To prepare the panini:  Preheat panini maker to high.  Coat one side of each slice of bread with cooking spray. With sprayed side down, spread the kale mixture on 4 slices of bread ( about 1/2 cup per sandwich).  Top each with 1/4 cup cheese and 2 slices tomato.

All layered up, ready for the bun top.

All layered up, ready for the bun top.

Top with the remaining bread, sprayed-side up.  Press in the panini maker until crispy,  3 to 5 minutes.

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This is unbelievably good!

This is unbelievably good!

 

SOURCE:   Eating Well Magazine

 

 

 

 

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Ham and Apple Butter Panini

Ham and apple butter  panini.

Ham and apple butter panini.

The foliage this year in New England is awesome, probably due to the few chilly mornings we had a couple of weeks ago.  Even though it is still developing in our area,  north of us it has almost reached its peak.  So this year we took our annual foliage ride to New Hampshire.   It was a beautiful sunny day and we totally enjoyed our day-cation.  One of the highlights of the day was our lunch at a small cafe, situated with a  river running behind it.  There was a patio out back where we sat to enjoy not only our lunch, but also the foliage along the river.

We both ordered a bowl of soup and this Ham and Apple Butter Panini.  It was awesome, and after we returned home the thought of it kept running through my mind.  I wished I could have another one, so I made it happen.  The combination may sound a little unusual, but let me assure you, it’s all good.  Somehow it just works.  The sweet apple butter, the salty ham, crisp apple slices and melted cheese.  Irresistible.

Cheese, apples, ham and apple butter.  Superb!

Cheese, apples, ham and apple butter. Superb!

If you go to an apple orchard and come away looking for ideas to use up your apples, this sandwich is a great place to start.

HAM AND APPLE BUTTER PANINI

Yield:   4 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices sturdy bread, such as sourdough, or a rustic white like Scala.
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • sliced cheddar cheese, white or yellow,
  • 2 – 3 thinly sliced apples, such as Macoun, Macintosh, or whatever is available in your area.
  • thinly sliced deli ham, about 6 – 8 oz.
  • 1/2 cup apple butter (available at the supermarket where jams are sold, or you can make your own.)

Directions:

To assemble the sandwiches, separate the slices of bread into pairs.  Generously butter one side of each slice of bread, and then place them butter side down on a work surface.  (This will be the outside of the sandwich.)

On one side of each pair, layer cheese, apple slices, and ham.

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On the remaining slice of each pair, spread a generous layer of apple butter.  Sandwich the two slices of each pair together with the buttered sides facing outward.

Butter the outside of bread on both sides and grill it.

Butter the outside of bread on both sides and grill it.

Warm a cast iron skillet or panini grill over medium heat.  Cook the sandwiches, turning once, until both sides are golden and the cheese is melted.  Slice in half and serve immediately.

Sweet, salty, cheesy, melty.  What's not to love?

Sweet, salty, cheesy, melty. What’s not to love?

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