Today marks the start of a new series of posts on this blog, which I’m calling Technique Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I’ll post a new dish which features a basic cooking technique, and go over that technique in greater than usual detail. Hopefully this will help everyone learn a bit more about the nuts and bolts of cooking.
Today we’re going to be broiling vegetables. Broiling is wonderful for browning, melting crumbs, and cooking thin foods. For example, it’s great for fish, thin vegetables, and garlic bread. It’s not good for thicker foods, such as potatoes, large cuts of meat, or actually baking bread. Generally broiling is done 4-5″ from the heating element of your oven (measured to the top of the food, not the rack), so I usually use the second rack down in my oven. If I’m broiling something very burn-sensitive like a quick brown on a breadcrumb topping, though, the third down might be better for more even browning and less chance of burning. You want to watch the food closely when broiling, since the difference between browned and burnt is less than a minute.
Start by choosing your vegetables… I went with some eggplant, portobello mushrooms for some meatiness, yellow and red bell peppers for some sweetness, and a cucumber.
Wash them, slice them into 1/4″ slices, and place in a ziplock bag with a half cup of balsamic vinegar. Shake to coat, and let marinate for a half hour.
Broil the vegetables 4-5″ from the heating element of the oven for 4 minutes, then turn the vegetables over, and broil for another 3 minutes, or until well browned on both sides. Be careful not to burn anything, it’s better to remove when some vegetables aren’t browned well than to have any burn.
Meanwhile, cut a loaf of sourdough bread lengthwise in half, then into individual sandwich sizes. Spread 2 teaspoons of feta cheese spread on each sandwich half.
Once the vegetables have cooled enough to handle, assemble sandwiches with as much vegetable filling as you want, and will easily fit, then spray the top with cooking spray (I use olive oil pam) or brush lightly with melted butter or olive oil, to facilitate browning.
Cook in a panini press or George Foreman grill until the crusts are browned, about five minutes.
Roasted Vegetable Panini
2 portobello mushroom caps
2 bell peppers, preferably red or yellow
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup feta cheese spread
Loaf of sourdough bread
1. Wash vegetables and slice into 1/4″ strips. Marinate in balsamic vinegar for a half hour.
2. Preheat broiler to high, then lay strips on a baking sheet covered with a silpat or parchment paper.
3. Broil vegetables 4-5″ from the heating element of the oven, generally on the second position from the top, for 4 minutes. Turn vegetables over, and broil for another 3 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, cut sourdough loaf lengthwise in half, then into individual sandwich sizes. Spread both the top and the bottom of the bread with 2 teaspoons each of feta cheese spread.
5. When vegetables are done, remove from oven and let cool enough to handle. Place between bread slices, then lightly spray top and bottom of the bread with olive oil Pam, or brush with butter.
6. Cook in a panini press or George Foreman grill until browned, about 5 minutes.