Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Spicy Arugula

Arugula has got to be the tastiest lettuce out there. It’s really versatile and has a peppery taste that stands up well to other flavors, especially citrus ones. My go to arugula dish is simple- roasted red onions with a lemon vinaigrette drizzled on top. Trust me, it’s absolutely divine. We eat it once a week, at least.

Yesterday at Whole Foods I was debating what to make for dinner and came across an organic arugula bunch that was far too beautiful to pass on. Normally when I buy arugula I get the little leafs that come in the “ready to serve” package. I do this not for simplicity but because it is all they have. So, imagine my excitement when I saw a full, thick leafed bunch, hidden amongst the romaine and swiss chard. After re-reading the label twice I still wasn’t convinced arugula could look like that and had to tear off a piece to taste. I was not let down- it was every bit as delicious as the little leafs and had far more crunch. I threw it in my basket and went perusing the store for a meal idea.

I never ignore the bakery when I visit Whole Foods. Usually I do a quick walk through to get my taste buds flowing and to tease my sweet tooth. However, yesterday it wasn’t the sweets that caught my eye but the scent of freshly baked bread. Greedily I felt every single loaf until I found the Ciabatta to be warm.

Ciabatta is square bread that is often used to make panini’s. I have been eyeing the panini grill’s since they came back in style and while I haven’t yet bought one, I’ve read plenty articles that offer advice on how to make your own without the grill. Thinking panini’s and arugula I got some additional ingredients then went home to experiment. The recipe that follows is what I came up with. It was so good and filling that I know I’ll turn to it again and again.

Chicken Pesto Panini

1 loaf of Ciabatta bread
2 chicken breasts sliced thin
Arugula leaves
1 tomato sliced thin
¼ cup pesto
Monetary jack cheese
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

For Seasoning: Pepper, Salt, and Poultry Seasoning

Season the chicken breasts with pepper, salt, and poultry seasoning. Fry in olive oil until cooked through then top with thinly sliced monetary jack cheese. Turn the heat to low and cover the pan to let the cheese melt.

Slice the Ciabatta in half and cover both sides with pesto then top with tomato, arugula, and parmesan cheese. Place the chicken in between the bread and squeeze together. Put sandwich on hot grill pan and press down with skillet. Grill on both sides until brown / black char lines appear. Slice and serve!

The combinations are endless when it comes to panini’s and I already have some ideas on what I’ll do next. (An Italian- with salami, capicola, ham, red sauce and mozzarella / A Greek- with feta cheese, peppers, lemon basil pesto, kalmata olives, and artichokes / A Curry with tiki masala, chicken, parmesan, tomatoes, and spinach)

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