Recipe Redux: Vegetable Panini on Sourdough


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 on Sourdough

 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


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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Recipe for a Healthy Start to Your Day: Irish Oatmeal topped with Apples, Cinnamon and Sugar

Here it is, my new favorite thing, breakfast made in a crock pot! Yep, last week I prepared some steel cut oats in a slow cooker, and now it’s become an every night affair!  Just this morning my foodie daughter ask, “Where’s that oatmeal you made?” Seriously. I am not pulling  your leg!

What could be better than having a kid ask for something nutritious and be able to make it while you sleep! Life is good!

Irish Oatmeal topped with Apples, Cinnamon and Sugar

Everyone is familiar with oatmeal (aka rolled oats) and if your nutrition vigilant you’ve probably also heard of steel cut oats (aka Irish oatmeal). But make no mistake, both are nutritious! In this post I will explain the similarities and differences and share my recipe for slow cooked steel cut oats topped with apples, cinnamon and sugar.

Both steel cut oats and rolled oats start out as harvested raw oats that are cleaned and separated from the hulls and stalks. After that they are referred to as groats (another name for grain kernel). Steel cut oats originate when the groat is cut into two or three pieces with a sharp metal blade. Rolled oats (aka old fashioned oats) originate by steaming the groats and then rolling them into flakes. The larger surface area is what helps rolled oats cook faster than steel cut oats.

Old fashioned oats and steel cut oats both offer  these nutritional benefits:

• High in soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.   Insoluble fibers  aid in regularity.

• Sodium and sugar free.

• Low in saturated fat.

• Natural source of beta glucan, an immune system booster.

• Aid in weight control by increasing satiety; fills you up so you are less likely to crave unhealthy snacks.

The advantage of steel cut oats is they  will not raise your blood sugar as rapidly as rolled oats (important for individuals with diabetes) and they have a heartier, satisfying texture.

The disadvantage of steel cut oats is they take some time to cook. However, you can circumvent this problem by making them ahead of time in a crock pot. Below is my recipe for slow cooked Irish oatmeal topped with apples, cinnamon, and sugar. This is one comfort food you can be guilt free about digging into!

What is your favorite oatmeal topping?

Irish Oatmeal topped with Apples, Cinnamon and Sugar


Irish Oatmeal topped with Apples, Cinnamon and Sugar


Slow Cooked Irish Oatmeal Topped with Cinnamon, Apples and Sugar

by Diane Boyd

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Irish Oatmeal:
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • Topping:
  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Spray the bottom of a crock pot with cooking spray. Add liquid ingredients and one cup of oats. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 hours.

Once the oats have finished cooking, mix cinnamon and sugar together and set aside. Chop apples and place into a large bowl; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture and toss to  coat evenly. Top each bowl of cooked oats with fruit mixture.

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