Friday, September 19, 2008

Roasted Vegetable Panini

I could never be a vegan. I'm addicted to cheese and I harbor a sincere fondness for eggs.

However, I could be a vegetarian.... for about a week or two, maybe.

Truth is, I do tend to plan my meals around vegetables and dried beans and legumes, but mostly for weight reasons. I try to find low fat substitutes for the protein that meat provides, and when I eat meat, I opt for the leanest possible options.

Tonight's meal was strictly vegetarian. And, yeah... I'm proud of the fact that I put a very filling meal on the table without the use of meat. Cheese was present, of course... MUST FEED THE ADDICTION.

I roast all kinds of vegetables in the oven, and I use those roasted veggies in many different recipes, from pasta to omelets to soups to hashes to.... you name it. Roasted veggies, in my eyes, are the concentrated form of their own sweet and savoryness. (yeah, I know.. it's not a word)

I baked a loaf of whole wheat bread earlier this week. NOTE, I said baked, not made. WalMart sells three loaves of frozen 100% whole wheat bread dough for far less than I can buy the equivalent loaves from the bakery section of the store, so each week I "bake" a loaf of bread. If I were to really splurge, I would have purchased a loaf of ciabatta bread to really make these sandwiches awesome.

Roasted Vegetable Panini

I used eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, red onion, and mushrooms for this particular recipe. The eggplants were sliced horizontally in 1/2 inch segments. The zucchini were sliced lengthwise, and the red pepper, onion and mushrooms were chunked /sliced into manageable pieces.

Eggplant
Zucchini
Red pepper
Red onion
Mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

reduced fat ricotta cheese
sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil
garlic powder
salt and pepper

Whole wheat bread slices... or your favorite bread
Provolone cheese
Fresh baby spinach leaves

Prepare veggies (first five ingredients) and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Arrange in a single layer on greased baking sheet (I line my baking sheet with that neat non-stick aluminum foil.) Place into oven and roast for 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven. Stack veggies in a pile the size of the sandwich you'll be making.

While veggies are roasting, mix ricotta, sundried tomatoes, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. My mixture was approximately 1 tablespoon ricotta, 1 tsp sundried tomatoes, pinch of garlic powder, salt and pepper PER sandwich. Set aside

Spray grill pan with cooking spray and preheat on medium heat. Spray one side of each bread slice with cooking spray and place on grill pan, spray-side down. Top one slice of each sandwich with one piece of provolone cheese, and spread ricotta mixture on the other slice. Top one slice with roasted veggie mixture after cheese has melted. Remove both halves from grill pan. Top with baby spinach leaves and put both halves together.

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