Avocado Panini

Whenever I go out to eat, very rarely do I order a sandwich, and it’s not because I don’t like them. I find that dining out for me usually entails either a mid-morning brunch of some kind where the bottomless mimosa takes center stage, or an evening dinner to celebrate the end of a very long day. But depending on how crazy my time out gets, if the motive for breakfast the next morning is to nurse the painful aftermath of the fun had the night before, then the bacon, egg and cheese on a toasted everything bagel with butter is indeed the only viable choice. And that is one of the many reasons why I LOVE making sandwiches so much.

The sandwich is the kind of food that can be taken in any direction. From the type of bread used to the ingredients entrusted in its embrace, the sandwich is adaptable to any situation and promotes a level of creativity that few other kinds of dishes of its nature can boast.

I feel my Avocado Panini is a testament to that. Layering buttery avocado with tomatoes and arugula sets the stage for the herb-infused goat cheese spread that manages to tie everything together. It’s a great, healthy sandwich to have on a warm, sunny day and best of all, it’s doable even if you don’t have a panini press!

Avocado Panini

(makes 2 6-inch sandwiches)

For the herb goat cheese spread:

4 oz softened goat cheese

4 basil leaves, finely chopped

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

1 clove minced garlic

Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix with a fork to incorporate the flavors. Set aside.

For the sandwich:

4 oz of goat cheese spread

1 baguette, 12 inches long

1 medium beefsteak tomato, sliced (1/4 inch thickness)

1 avocado, pitted and sliced (1/4 inch thickness)

1 tb olive oil

pinch of kosher salt

pinch of cracked black pepper

2 cups of baby arugula

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat your panini press.

Combine olive oil, salt and pepper into a dish and set aside.

Slice down the middle of the baguette, separating the top completely from the bottom. With the cut sides facing up, smear the goat cheese spread across the inside of the baguette (half on the top part and half on the bottom). Line the slices of avocado across the inside of the top and bottom part of the baguette. Make sure to use all of the avocado.

Place the arugula on the top part of the baguette. Dress with the juice of the lemon and place a layer of tomato slices onto the arugula. This will help keep the greens in place.

Bringing it all together:

Close the sandwich by placing the bottom of the sandwich onto the top so that the bottom is facing up. Brush half of the olive oil mixture onto the bottom part of the bread. Turn over and brush the top part of the sandwich with the rest of the oil.

Cut the sandwich in half, creating two 6-inch wedges. Place each sandwich into your panini press and cook for 2-3 minutes until bread is crispy and sandwich is warmed throughout.

Serve alongside a salad of your choice. Featured is simply leftover arugula dressed with a squeeze of lemon, olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper.

Creative Liberties:

  • If you do not have a panini press, no big deal! Place a grill pan or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Once hot, place the panini into the pan, bottom-side down. Using another heavy skillet or a hand press, weigh down the sandwich to ensure you get the crust every panini has on the outside of the bread. 2 minutes on each side should do the job!
  • If you’re a pork lover like I am (just wait for some of my upcoming recipes), toss a few slices of thick cut, smoked bacon into the sandwich between the layer of avocado and the arugula. What you’ll end up with is one of the most incredible BLTs you will ever have.

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