@recipe FROM THE PIONEER WOMAN COOKS: FOOD FROM MY FRONTIER
@story and image MARLA CANTRELL
I once overheard my youngest son defending me from accusations that I never cooked. He said, “She does so cook!” I smiled. That was my boy. He was nourished. He was indignant. I’m going to take him to Walmart and buy any toy he wants, I thought. And then he said this, “She does so. Every Thanksgiving and every Christmas.” My heart fell. I looked at my cupboard. Inside was an entire shelf devoted to croutons, which might have made sense if I’d had any lettuce in my refrigerator. Apparently, when I shopped I saw myself as the kind of mother who made her children fresh meals that started with lovely green salads. But alas, I was not.I cooked more after that. And I actually started buying lettuce. But I was never what you’d call an adventurous chef. So when we decided to cook every one of The Pioneer Woman’s recipes from her new cookbook On our Food Blog at AtUrbanMagazine.com, I made a decision of my own. I was going to hone my cooking skills and broaden my food horizons. This recipe does just that.
A couple of things before you get started. If you don’t have a Panini maker, don’t worry. You can grill the sandwiches in a skillet, one at a time, using a second heavy skillet on top to press it together. Turn halfway through to grill both sides. Also, this recipe is super easy, so don’t let the multiple steps fool you.
The Panini, filled with roasted bell peppers, zucchini, sautéed mushrooms, squash, tomatoes, and pepper jack cheese, turned into a roasted delight once it had been heated through on French bread and slathered in a dressing of hot pepper jelly and mayo. It probably didn’t hurt that the recipe had 5 tablespoons of butter! The Pioneer Woman loves her some butter. I won’t use that much again. Did you catch that? I said again! Because I’m a convert. And I’m turning into a better cook. Turns out there’s a lot of satisfaction in trying out new things.
Spicy Grilled Vegetable Panini
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 yellow squash, cut into thick diagonal slices
1 zucchini, cut into thick diagonal slices
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
5 Tablespoons butter (again, I only used 1 because I didn't use the other 4 Tablespoons to coat the outside of the bread once I'd finally gotten my sandwiches together.)
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup hot pepper jelly (the spicier the better)
12 to 16 slices pepper jack cheese
8 thick slices crusty French bread (If you, like me, don't have a Panini maker, I'd opt for a thinner sliced bread, maybe a nice sourdough.)
1. Make the marinade for the vegetables by combining the olive oil and ¼ cup of the balsamic vinegar in a large bowl.
2. Throw the squash, zucchini, and peppers into the bowl.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix together.
4. Toss them together to coat. Set aside.
5. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of the butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
6. Remove the mushrooms to a plate and set aside.
7. Grill the vegetables on both sides until golden brown and tender.
8. While the vegetables are grilling, toss the tomato slices in the marinade.
9. For the Panini spread, combine the mayo and pepper jelly.
10. Stir to combine.
11. To assemble the sandwiches, spread each piece of bread with a generous amount of spread.
12. Place 1 to 2 slices of cheese on each slice of bread.
13. To 4 slices of bread, layer on some zucchini.
14. Add some mushrooms.
15. Add some peppers and tomatoes.
16. And some squash.
17. Carefully bring the 2 halves together, spread the outside with the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, and grill in a Panini press, or skillet, until golden brown and the cheese is melted.
If you don’t want to grill the veggies, you can roast them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees, until brown.