Saying that it has been a crazy year is perhaps the understatement of the decade around my house. Since I have been gone, life has completely changed. We moved from a city apartment to a country house, changed jobs, and most significantly, had a baby. In the midst of all that we dealt with hurricanes, blizzards, lay-offs, among other things related to relocating and having kids. This past weekend was the first time in a long time that Aaron and I were able to sit back, relax, and enjoy a few serene and peaceful days. This meant that rather than quickly reheating leftovers for lunch between errands on Sunday, we actually had the time and energy to make something.
One of our favorite things about living in the Hudson River Valley is that we are really able to indulge in true farm-to-table cooking. We shop almost exclusively at our local farmers market, when we are not visiting the farms themselves. While we do enjoy taking locavor-ism to an extreme, it isn't without challenges during northeastern winters, as the selection becomes, well, pretty limited. After weeks and weeks of all variety of squash, Aaron couldn't take it anymore and demanded a change. So...
We moved on to mushrooms! Not very exciting, but at least something a bit of a deviation from the endless kabocha and butternut we had been eating through the dark days of winter. Fortunately I did have a container of homemade pesto tucked away in the back of the freezer waiting for that moment that comes towards the end of every winter when you are desperate for even the smallest taste of summer.
In 2011, this blog wasn't the only thing to go on hiatus. I also took an unfortunate break from bread making and am only slowly starting to get back into my former loaf-a-weekend groove. I have an enormous lack of trust in my oven - somehow I seem to burn everything - and fear of failure has made me apprehensive about getting started again. Though I dreamed of ciabatta for the panini, a simple white sandwich loaf was about all I could muster.
Add some creamy fresh mozzarella from the Italian dude at the market, and lunch is ready!
Mushroom & Pesto Paninis
5 medium portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup basil pesto
1 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
splash of white balsamic vinegar
1 small loaf white sandwich bread
Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Cook garlic in oil until it begins to turn golden and has infused flavor into the oil. Add the mushrooms and onions and saute until the onions are translucent. Add a splash of white balsamic and let it cook down for a moment or two. Remove from heat.
Spread about a half tablespoon of pesto on a slice of bread. Place a slice of mozzarella on the bread. Spoon some of the onion and mushroom mixture on top of the cheese. Add one more slice of mozzarella and then top with a second slice of bread spread with pesto.
Grill sandwich on a griddle or grill pan on medium heat with a panini press. Flip when bottom slice of bread begins to brown and the cheese begins to melt - probably cooking for a total of two minutes on each side depending on heat of your grill.