Mushroom and arugula panini

Spring has arrived with great fanfare. It’s sunny out and warm out, while ripe tomatoes, strawberries and asparagus are hitting the grocery shelves. (Obviously we’re not talking local produce here, since it’s too early in the year to get these in D.C., but these were on the shelves at Trader Joe’s.) I returned from yet another trip this morning, this time to Seattle, to this wonderful surprise. I did a fair amount of cooking while there, including a birthday dinner for my mom that I plan to write about this week.

But today, still exhausted from the trip, I decided to put something quick together. Ciabatta rolls I purchased at Trader Joe’s inspired me to make this panini, which takes very little time to put together. I assembled four, giving me enough to store for lunch tomorrow when B is back in town. I’m so excited to have my favorite culinary fan back to entertain!

The concept for the panini is simple.

Grill 1/2 lb. sliced baby portabella or crimini mushrooms until they brown. Add 1 small diced onion to the pan and cook until it softens. Add 1 tbsp. reduced balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Use some water to de-glaze the pan and store.

When you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches, place 1/4 of the mushroom mixture on a sliced ciabatta roll with fresh arugula leaves, tomato slices, 1 tbsp. crumbled gorgonzola cheeze and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Place the top on the sandwich and grill on a nonstick pan on both sides until the bread is crisp. I usually place a filled kettle on the sandwich to provide weight and flatten the panini, but grilling is altogether optional here.

Note: Depending on how long you are grilling it, you may want to hold off on adding the arugula until after you press the sandwich. This is so the leaves don’t wilt, but I only grilled it for a minute on each side.


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