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.
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 servings
- 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)
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.
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.
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.
Top with the remaining bread, sprayed-side up. Press in the panini maker until crispy, 3 to 5 minutes.
SOURCE: Eating Well Magazine