I love bread. I’m not afraid of loving it either…I love it wholeheartedly, and often. Now, I do love some breads more and more often than others (healthier whole grain breads are always bonus in my opinion) but I tend not to discriminate and can probably and honestly say that I love all bread in general. I love bread.
When Panera contacted me recently and asked me to write some posts for them I almost couldn’t contain my happiness. I mean really, who doesn’t love Panera. The place smells delicious the minute you walk in. I usually have to muster up the power to skip the sample basket that’s usually set up by the ordering line because once I start sampling it’s kinda hard to stop. I try to live by the “in moderation” rule, so overdoing it in the sample line kind of messes things up for me.
Last week I wanted to treat one of my dear friends who had just had foot surgery to some lunch. We planned it for Friday while our kiddies were at school and since she was stuck in her recliner it would be at her house in front of the tv. Sounded great to me. Panera was our choice for lunch that day…we decided to split two different sandwiches and a salad. What I love about Panera is all the fresh sandwiches, soups and salads they offer, and of course the freshly baked bread. That little cut of sourdough bread they put on the side is so perfect for dunking in soup or scooping up salad. I think it’s great that they are listing their calories on the menu board too. If you are like me and try to be mindful of calorie intake it’s super helpful when planning your meal. (this was not a meal that I looked at or cared about calories )
I also picked up a freshly baked baguette to take home for the fam (and some cute Valentine cookies). Let’s just say my car smelled absolutely heavenly on the ride home.
So what did I do with my baguette you want to know? I made my own veggie panini at home.
The star of the show…
and the final product…
Aggie’s Veggie Panini
Recipe from Aggie’s Kitchen
freshly baked baguette, portioned for sandwiches and sliced but not sliced completely through
shredded monterey jack or mozzarella cheese
caramelized onions (see quick recipe below)
fresh spinach leaves
sliced plum tomato
sliced artichoke hearts
Take sandwich bread and open on cutting board for panini building. Spread a light layer of shredded cheese on bread, then top with spinach leaves, artichokes, tomatoes and another layer of cheese. Top with about a tablespoon of caramelized onions and close sandwich. Place into hot greased skillet (I used non stick spray) and carefully top with a panini press or heavy pan (i.e. cast iron skillet with large can of tomatoes). Hold and press gently but firmly until sandwich starts to “set”. Cook for about 3 minutes until bottom of bread gets toasty. Carefully flip and set up panini press again. Cook until cheese is completely melted and bread is toasty.
Easy Caramelized Onions
2-3 large onions (yellow, red or both), sliced very thin
2 teaspoons olive oil
pinch of dried thyme
salt and pepper
Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and season. Cook and stir for about 3-5 minutes until onions start to soften. Once onions start to brown reduce heat down to low and continue to cook for another 8-10 minutes until very soft and fragrant. Use as topping to sandwiches, steaks, burgers, pizza or mix with sour cream and mayonnaise for a dip.
(Disclaimer: Panera Bread provided me with compensation for writing this post. My opinions, however, are always my own.)