Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Grilled Red Pepper Panini

The red pepper has to be one of the most versatile vegetables. Each time you cook it a new way, it tastes just a little bit different. This Panini highlights the roasted version of a red bell pepper and is delicious next to the coolness of the other vegetables layered on this warm sandwich. Pictured here on top of whole grain artisan toast, it's also extremely good on a Ciabatta roll.

Grilled Red Pepper Panini

Makes 4 sandwiches

8 slices Ciabatta or other favorite bread (I like whole grain or rye artisan bread) 
4 zucchini, cut thin and long
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 purple onion, thinly sliced into rounds
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 roasted red bell peppers (in brine), sliced into rounds
Avocado (optional)

Asparagus Basil Pesto 
2 T olive oil
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1/2 cup asparagus, boiled for about 3 minutes or until tender enough to blend
1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed
2 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup pine nuts
Salt to taste

Marinate zucchini, yellow pepper, and purple onion in the balsamic vinegar for 15 minutes. While marinating, blend ingredients for asparagus pesto until smooth.

Layer marinated vegetables along with avocado and roasted red bell peppers on favorite bread (Ciabatta bread is recommended by the Italians, but I choose a whole grain artisan bread -- I especially love rye). On the other slice of bread, spread the pesto. Place the sandwich in 1 teaspoon of olive oil or butter and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. If you do not have a panini maker, you can put a plate with a can on top of the sandwich to weight the bread and press it as the panini maker would. 

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