I really have nothing to offer you today but this panini.
Really. I mean, I thought about writing about the two large pots of mums I impulse-bought yesterday. I love mums, and every fall, I see them, neatly placed on the front steps of more put-together people’s houses. As I drove home yesterday, I saw them on display in a local nursery’s outdoor section, and pretty much slammed on the brakes, unbuckled both kids, and bought two pots, just like that. I thought about telling you how I came around the corner this morning only to find Owen very carefully picking off the unopened bulbs of one of the plants and how we had a long and very sobering conversation about how we just can’t do that again because those “balls” will never become flowers once they’re dead..and how he keeps asking me if everything is dead now and I fear I’ve done something irreparable to his little psyche.
But really, all of that is pretty routine, pretty par for the course.
I thought about writing about a moment I have every day around 2:15 in the afternoon.
Both kids are down for naps, and I’ve finished cleaning up so our house no longer looks like a toy-store explosion. It’s quiet, and every day I ask myself: should I take a nap or just have another cup of coffee? Usually the cup of coffee wins, and I think to myself, I’m probably damaging something critical within me by not napping because we’re certainly not sleeping at night anymore, as Miss Elsa and The Cough-That-Never-Ends have been not sleeping in our bed for the last three weeks.
I was going to tell you about all of that but feared it would sound ungrateful, complainy, and really, I have running water, so my life is pretty great.
I was going to tell you about how I’m suddenly and totally addicted to Mind of a Chef, now that Master Chef is over and I’m completely and utterly
disappointed that Elizabeth didn’t win. Elizabeth, if you’re reading this, and you’re not, you totally had my vote, and I would buy your cookbook over Courtney’s any day. She won because she has a better story, but your colorful plates make me want to sing.
So here. Here is a panini. One of my favorite paninis of all time. I can’t stop roasting vegetables lately, so I’ve done it again here. This time it’s brussels sprouts, onions, bell peppers, garlic, and broccoli (or cauliflower). Roasted, then finely chopped, the veggies get all mixed and mashed together with some herbed goat cheese. I smeared this concoction onto two buttered & garlic-salted pieces of bread that became the crispiest garlic-bread exterior to this sandwich. I added what is probably the last of this season’s tomatoes and a bit of fall lettuce to top the sandwich after it was cooked.
I love this sandwich. I can see it being in pretty heavy rotation over the next few weeks as we slip further into fall. I hope your weekend is full of all the September sunshine, leaving just enough time to toast up these paninis for dinner.
(recipe by Carpé Season) (serves 2, easily multiplied)
Note: The recipe's vegetable amounts are suggestions! Play around with the ratios as you prefer. Also, when assembling and grilling the paninis, you want to work quickly, assembling each panini just before grilling to help keep the bread from becoming too moist.
8-10 medium brussels sprouts, stems & outer leaves removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper
10 medium broccoli or cauliflower florets (about 1 small head)
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 medium red onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, quartered
4-ounce goat cheese log, softened
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced (1/4 teaspoon dried)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced (1 teaspoon dried)
4 slices sturdy bread (like sourdough)
app. 2 tablespoons butter
2-4 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
4 lettuce leaves
4 large, thin slices of tomato
(parchment paper helpful)
Roast the Vegetables:
Preheat oven to 400*F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, toss brussels sprouts in olive oil, then sprinkle with salt & pepper, tossing to coat. Place brussels sprouts on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, shaking the pan every 5 minutes to brown them evenly. Meanwhile, prepare the broccoli (or cauliflower), pepper, onion, and garlic. Once adequately chopped, place in the same bowl, and toss to coat with remaining olive oil (you may need to add a bit more); sprinkle with salt and pepper, and turn to coat.
After the brussels sprouts have been in the oven for 20 mintues, remove the pan and add the broccoli, pepper, onion, and garlic. Gently stir, being sure to keep the veggies in a single layer. Return to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes, continuing to shake the pan every 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender-crisp and slightly browned in places. Remove from oven. Once cool enough to handle, finely chop all the vegetables.
Assemble & Grill Paninis:
Mix together the goat cheese, rosemary, and basil. Add the finely chopped roasted vegetables, and stir to combine.
Butter one side of each piece of bread and sprinkle with garlic salt.
Place one slice of bread, buttered side down, on a plate. Smear goat cheese/veggie mixture on the bottom slice of bread. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of parmesan on top of the mixture and then top with the second slice of bread, buttered side up. Place assembled sandwich on preheated panini press or frying pan and grill until browned (turning once if using a frying pan). You really want to err on the side of a darker toast because the crispiness of the bread is a key texture with all that creamy goat cheese! Remove from panini press / pan & gently open to place tomato slice and lettuce leaf on sandwich. Re-close & serve immediately. We ate this with a simple side salad and can only suggest you do the same.