Monday, March 7, 2011

Meatless Mondays: Portabello Pesto Panini and Homemade Pesto

We made up this Panini recipe probably 4 years ago? I love that it's super flexible depending on your tastes. I don't like cheese on mine, but Jordan does. I probably like more pesto than he does on his. It all comes together in this panini. If you want to try your hand at pesto I have included that in this post as well.

Portabello Mushrooms
Red Pepper(s)
Monterey Jack Cheese (if using)
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Ciabatta Rolls or Loaf

-We use 1 Portabello mushroom per panini and 1 red pepper per 2 paninis.

Get your grill heating on low. Clean your mushrooms - just brush them off with a mushroom brush or pastry brush and carefully remove the stem. DO NOT RINSE THEM! Portabello Mushrooms are super absorbent and water will ruin their texture and taste. Brush olive oil and salt & pepper on both sides of each portabello mushroom.

My husband always starts grilling the pepper first. Char on all sides on a low temperature. We have grilled at a higher temperature and ended up charring through the pepper so there was nothing really left edible to use.

Once the pepper is almost done then throw the mushrooms on the grill on medium heat. Place top side down (not the gill side). Maybe 2-3 min. per side. You don't want them charred, just cooked nicely.

Once the pepper is done throw into a sealed plastic bag for about 5 minutes. The steam will loosen the skin so it's super easy to peel off.

I cut through 1 side of my pepper and clean out the seeds. Lay it flat and peel off the skin. Here it's already skinned and see some nice char marks showing through-yum! I cut in half lengthwise and use 1 half per panini.

Ok the shrooms and pepper are off the grill and you are ready to assemble your panini. We usually use the Ciabatta rolls from Costco and just keep them in our freezer, but we were out so I picked up a Ciabatta loaf from Trader Joe's. It has lots of nice holes - which is great for a panini.

Slather pesto (jarred or homemade) on the top and bottom. I have definitely used jarred before and some are better than others so find what works for you!

Now assemble your sandwich. I assembled out of order for some reason here, but I usually put the mushroom on the bottom and then the red pepper. Either way works!

Now the shroom! Doesn't it look so good? If you haven't ever tried portabello mushrooms, cook them this way and they are divine. Jordan adds cheese on top of his mushroom/pepper stack but I skip that!

Add the top and put into your panini press. If you don't have a press you can improvise with a grill pan or even regular pan and weigh down with a foil covered brick or a super heavy pan. I've even seen it on shows where they put beans in a pan on top to weigh it down. In a panini press it doesn't take long - just a few minutes. If you are using a regular pan, just flip over and weigh down again after 2-3 minutes, once it is nicely browned.

Can you believe it gets this squished? So delicious and totally meat free AND filling!

Read below if you want to make your own pesto. It's super easy and for sure try it in the summer when Basil is abundant!

Portabello Pesto Panini and Homemade Pesto Printable Recipes

Homemade Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese*
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

*I read a lot of pesto recipes and there are so many ways to make pesto just like there are so many different ways to make salsa. I ended up using half parmesan and half romano. I like that combo myself, but you can use all parmesan or all romano. Besides those 2 cheeses I wouldn't substitute. They have good strong flavor and texture that makes for a good pesto. Nothing else really compares or should be substituted.

First take your basil and put it into your food processor.

Next add your pinenuts or walnuts that have been toasted.

*Pineuts are super expensive and walnuts are a great substitute. Toast over medium heat in a pan stirring so they get nice and brown, but not burned. It just adds a nice taste to the pesto.

If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.

Pulse a few times just to get combined.

Add your minced garlic. I had used 3 large garlic bulbs. Big mistake. It was too much garlic and I had to mellow the pesto out with more olive oil at the end. Make sure you use 2 if they are large or 3 medium (like the recipe says!).

Pulse some more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.

Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Makes about 1 cup. I used on our sandwiches and then in a pesto salad the next day. I can't wait until summer when Basil is out and about at the farmer's market.

No comments:

Post a Comment