I think I was a bit spoiled as a child — at least when it came to meals. Not only did my mom make us whatever we wanted (within reason) for breakfast and lunch, we got to pick how it was cooked. She must have loved me a lot to make me hot dogs for breakfast, per my request, and even cut up the meat before it went into the bun. (Also per my request. I was a strange child.) And her sandwiches were the best. I don’t think I ever ate a tuna sandwich unless it was grilled. I believe it was because of those that I have a slight aversion to cold sandwiches. If I have access to a stove, or at the very least, a microwave, there will be no cold sandwiches for this girl.
I whipped up these pita paninis and some hummus for dinner one night last week. Steve has been putting in a lot of late nights at the clinic, trying to finish school, so dinner has been a bit lax. I even quit planning a menu! Ack! I’ve decided that I need to use more of what I have on hand, so I’ve been cooking more on the fly lately. Fun sometimes, but a little stressful at others when I’m at a loss for what to make and my kids are poking each other in the eyes.
We LOVED these sandwiches. I liked grilling (aka in a skillet with butter, not an actual grill, but that would be good, too) pita bread because they crisped up really well. Especially the whole wheat ones I got at Trader Joe’s. They’re extra thin and sometimes a little too fragile, but I love them anyway.
Luckily I had one lone zucchini left in my fridge to save the day.
Grilled Zucchini and Ham Pita Panini with Basil Hummus
1 small zucchini, sliced diagonally into 1/4-inch slices
oil, for brushing
2 whole pitas sliced in half
4 slices thin-sliced deli ham
2 round slices of provolone cheese, cut in half
1 medium tomato, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
6-10 fresh basil leaves
For the hummus:
2 cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and well-rinsed
2 T tahini (ground sesame paste, found in ethnic or health food aisles)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely
juice from 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves (about 1/2 bunch)
big pinch of salt and ground black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Prepare the hummus:
Combine chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, basil, salt, cayenne and about 1/4 cup water in the bowl of a food processor. While the food processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil. Process until smooth, adding more oil if necessary. Check seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
Will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for two weeks.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups (seriously an estimate out of my head . . . my food processor only holds 3 cups and it almost fills it)
Prepare the pitas:
Heat BBQ grill or stove-top grill pan to medium-high heat. Toss zucchini slices in a bowl with a glug of oil. Place slices on pre-heated grill and cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping once, until nice grill marks have formed on both sides and zucchini is tender. Remove and set aside.
Coat a medium skillet with butter or nonstick spray and place over medium heat.
To assemble pitas, spread a couple spoonfuls of hummus inside each pita half and fill with one slice of ham, a few pieces of grilled zucchini, a slice of tomato, a few basil leaves, and a slice of cheese. Place pita half in the preheated skillet, then cook in a panini press.
If you don't have a panini press (like me), place a heavy, cast-iron skillet on top of the pita. Cook for 3-5 minutes or so, flip pita over, and place the heavy skillet on top again and cook for another 3-5 minutes until everything is heated through and outsides of the pita are golden brown and crisp. If you don't have a cast-iron skillet, simply use a small skillet and put a couple of cans of beans (or whatever else you have on hand) in the skillet to weigh it down.
Serve with Basil Hummus and sliced carrots, cucumbers, or other crudites.
Makes 4 pita halves.
from Perry's Plate