Recipe Redux: Vegetable Panini on Sourdough

 

I panicked when I read the first two words of this month’s Recipe Redux challenge: fermented foods. I had visions of having to turn  my kitchen into a microbiology lab! My daughter calls me weird because I prepare brown rice instead of white. I cringe at what she’d call me if see discovered every dark corner of my kitchen filled with bottles of food meant to be refrigerated, left out for weeks, covered only with cheesecloth in hopes that I would grow millions of microorganisms. No, I am not going there. Fortunately, I don’t have to.  The recipe redux theme is to use your favorite live cultured food, not nurture one!

Fermentation is one of the oldest ways of preserving food and it is the secret behind some of the world’s best tasting foods. It is the process in which food is exposed to bacteria and/or yeast by way of inoculation or naturally through the air. Fermentation occurs when the microorganisms convert carbohydrate (either sugar or starch) to  alcohol and carbon dioxide or  acids. The taste of fermented foods is tangy and sour and sometimes downright funky! But beyond preservation and taste,  fermentation also has some health benefits.

There is mounting scientific evidence of benefits including calming digestive problems and boosting the immune system,  from  consuming foods containing bacteria or yeast that are believed to be healthy, i.e.  probiotics.  Scientists believe that when the balance of friendly bacteria in the intestines becomes interrupted, digestive problems can result. In an article from WebMD Stefano Guandalini, MD, professor of pediatrics and gastroenterology at the University of Chicago Medical Center states,

“Probiotics can improve intestinal function and maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines.”

He also says this about probiotics and maintaining a strong immune system, “In societies with very good hygiene, we’ve seen a sharp increase in autoimmune and allergic diseases. That may be because the immune system isn’t being properly challenged by pathogenic organisms. Introducing friendly bacteria in the form of probiotics is believed to challenge the immune system in healthy ways.”

Yogurt is perhaps the most familiar probiotic, but there are many more including: kefir and milk with acidophilus, miso,  tempeh,  sauerkraut and kimchi (to name a few).

That said, my favorite fermented food, sourdough bread, is one you eat for taste, not probiotics. The Lactobacilli (present in the sourdough starter and responsible for  the breads tangy flavor and for leavening) are likely rendered inactive once the bread is baked.   If you are seeking the  health benefits from fermented foods, look for the words live cultures. Nevertheless, my recipe (below) for  vegetable panini on sourdough is a  winner on taste alone! There is one thing I am certain of :  if you make it,  they will come!!!!

Please see the links following my recipe  and consider trying some  of the many fermented foods from this month’s Recipe Redux!

 Vegetable Panini with Fresh Basil

by Diane Boyd

Prep Time: 30

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the Veggies

  • 1 pound zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound sweet onions, sliced
  • 1 pound baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 T canola oil

For the Sandwich

  • 1/2 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 8 ounces part- skim milk mozzarella cheese, slices
  • 1/4 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

For the vinaigrette dressing

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1T white wine vinegar
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t sugar
  • 1/8 t Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 t dried oregano
  • 1/8 t dried thyme
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 T fresh chopped basil

Instructions

For the vegetables

Place sliced zucchini, onions and baby portobello mushrooms in a bowl and toss with canola oil. Roast in 400 degree F oven until tender and brown, approximately 20 minutes.

For the vinaigrette

While vegetables are roasting, prepare vinaigrette by mixing ingredients canola oil through fresh basil.

When vegetables are finished roasting, place in bowl and toss with vinaigrette dressing.

For the sandwich

Preheat a sandwich grill. For each sandwich, place two bread slices, cut sides down, on a work surface and brush 1 side of each bread with EVOO.Turn over one slice of bread and add fresh spinach, 2 ounces of sliced mozzarella cheese and roasted veggies. Top with second slice of sourdough bread, oiled side up.

Place the sandwich in the panini grill, close the top plate and cook until the bread is golden and toasted and the cheese is melted. Serve right away.

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10 Responses to Recipe Redux: Vegetable Panini on Sourdough

  1. Ha, I think we all had a similar “fear” of this month’s theme (and most of us are dietitians!) But love this sandwich – exactly what I order out for lunch – now it’s time to make it at home!

    • Diane Boyd says:

      Deanna,
      So true! I wonder how many of us would have made the yogurt parfait had challenge not specified “please no yogurt parfaits”.

  2. Carlene RD says:

    Sourdough is such a good choice! I didn’t even think of that for this challenge.

    • Diane Boyd says:

      Carlene,
      Thank you for your comment! I think half the fun of the Recipe Redux is reading all the other posts to see how each member completes the challenge!

  3. graincrazy says:

    This a fantastic idea. Panini’s are always a winner. This recipe looks so inviting. I love sourdough. Thanks for sharing it. :)

    • Diane Boyd says:

      graincrazy,
      Thank you for your comment. This is one sandwich I have been making for about 3 years and it is a family favorite! Hope you will give it a try.

  4. Yum! Now if only I had a panini press at the office… ;)

  5. I love your photos – they have me wanting to make your Vegetable Panini RIGHT NOW!

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