Friday, January 20, 2012

Mushroom and Spinach Panini

Outside of Italy, panini is referred to a toasted grilled sandwich, which is typically filled with some kind of filling either cooked or raw and cheese. The cheese acts as the glue which keeps the bread together. I love eating these for lunch or for dinner with a soup and a green salad.

Today, I made a mushroom and baby spinach panini - simply sauteed cremini and button mushrooms with shallots and lightly wilted baby spinach. I like to use a mix of mushrooms for additional flavor and texture. The cremini mushrooms are more meaty than the white button mushrooms. But any other combination or mushrooms of just one kind will work.

The key to a panini filling that it should be dry - otherwise the sandwich will become soggy. Using spinach is tricky since it releases a lot of moisture while it is being cooled.  I find baby spinach releases less moisture than regular spinach especially if spun dry in a salad spinner. Also, added at the last minute prevents it from becoming watery.

For this panini, I used Iberico cheese which is of Spanish origin made with a blend of pasteurized milk from cows, goats and sheep. It is slightly tangy as well as rich and buttery. It is a great table cheese as part of tapas as well as good for melting. However, you could use any other melting cheese.

Mushroom and Spinach panini
Mushroom and spinach filling

6 slices good quality large slice sandwich bread – I like to use artisanal French bread
4 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 generous cups baby spinach leaves, tightly packed
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
A few grinds of fresh black pepper
Thinly sliced Iberico cheese – quantity depends on how cheesy you like your sandwich

Heat a large heavy bottomed non-stick saut̩ pan over high heat. Add the olive oil, the sliced mushrooms and the sliced shallots. Cook over medium high heat for five minutes without stirring. At this point the mixture will look watery Рadd the salt and pepper, stir and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Soon the mushrooms will begin to brown and the shallots will caramelize.

30 seconds before turning off the heat, add the baby spinach leaves and stir continuously till the leaves are just wilted. Remove from pan to cool before adding to the sandwich.

Heat a grill pan with a press or panini pan over medium heat. Assemble the sandwich by laying out a few slices of cheese, topped with the filling and (chili flakes if desired), and another few slices of cheese. Cover with the second slice and place on the panini press on top and cook the sandwich over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Slice into half and serve.

Note: The stuffing has numerous possibilities like a quesadilla filling, pasta topping, bruschetta topping with melted cheese on top, mixed into a plain risotto etc.

You might also like Corn and Pesto Panini and Egg sandwich with Harissa


  1. Now that is one nice looking panini!

    1. Thanks Kevin... I love the panini's that you come up with as well.