Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Portobello and Roasted Red Pepper Panini

2013 Blogger Party Planning

With March approaching and summer activities being planned, Larry Doolittle (Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings), Katherine Aucoin (Smoky Mountain CafĂ©), and our spouses met at Larry and Bev's gorgeous home on the lake, "Almost Heaven South" to make preliminary plans for our 4th annual blogger party.  We could have done it by email or on the phone, but it’s still winter and every excuse for a party needs to be utilized.
It took us about 5 minutes to do our preliminary planning and about 5 hours to catch up with one another and have fun. 
We each provided an appetizer, we had some adult beverages, and Bev made the dessert of Molten Lava Cake. It seems like we never stopped eating the whole 5 hours!   For our appetizer I made the Portobello and Roasted Red Pepper Panini listed below.  
As for this year’s blogger party, it will be May 26, which is the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend (same as last year) and we’ve chosen a Hawaiian Luau as this year’s theme.  We still have the details to work out and will publish them in April, but for now we hope you’ll add the event to your calendar and plan to join us to eat, drink, and get lei’d.

Portobello and Roasted Red Pepper Panini

by adapted from Crazy Good Italian by Mike Isabella
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 15 min

Ingredients (4 sandwiches or 16 appetizers)
    For the artichoke pesto
    • 2 tsp pine nuts
    • 3 artichoke hearts, cut into 4ths
    • 1/4 cup shaved Pecorino Romano
    • 1 tsp minced garlic
    • 1/4 tsp smoked sea salt
    • 1/8 tsp red pepper flake
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    For the panini
    • 4 ciabatta rolls
    • 4 whole portobello mushrooms
    • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper, cut into strips
    • 8 ounces fresh mozarella cut into slices
    • 8 large basil leaves
    • olive oil
    1. Roast the portobello mushrooms - Preheat oven to 400f. Remove the mushroom stems, remove the gills with a spoon, and wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth. Rub them lightly with oil. Roast for 15 minutes. After cooled, slice into 1/4" strips.
    2. Make the artichoke pesto - Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat, tossing frequently, until lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Place all pesto ingredients, except the oil, in a food processor. Turn on the processor and slowly add the oil until it is all combined.
    3. Assemble the panini - Split the ciabatta rolls in half. Top the bottoms with mozzarella, the mushrooms, the roasted red pepper, and torn pieces of the basil leaves. Smear some of the pesto on the the top bun.
    4. Cook the panini - Preheat a panini press to 350-375f (medium). Put two sandwiches in, press closed and cook until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy, about 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining two.
    Tips: If you are in a hurry, you could just slice the mushrooms and saute them in some butter which will cut the mushroom cooking time to about 8 minutes.
    Tips: Cut the panini in fourths as pictured for appetizer portions.
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    I am loving my newest kitchen toy, a Cuisinart Smart Stick, that we picked up at Costco for about $20.  It is a stick blender motor that has attachments for an immersion blender, whisk, or the pictured mini-food processor.  It makes quick work of small projects like this pesto for the panini.  The motor has two speeds.  It is easy to clean, since the attachments separate from the motor.  And at $20 it's a deal!  

    Panini have a tendency to taste a little "flat".  Ha ha ha ha, whew.  Sorry.  I'll show myself out. 

    You could also just grill the portobello mushrooms whole on the grill, a few minutes per side over medium heat.  You could even cook these panini ON the grill using a foil covered brick like I did when making these Bristol Bash 'em Up Panini.

    [Standard Disclaimer]  I have no affiliation with Cuisinart.