Kale is one of my favorite green leafy veggies, and I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate it into our meals.
I love sneaking veggies into traditionally “comfort food” type dishes, and this panini is no exception. The fontina cheese oozes out of the sandwich, the bread is warm and crispy, and the sautéed kale and caramelized onions add some much needed lightness to the dish.
This recipe was inspired by one of my newfound favorite bakeries in SF: Le Marais Bakery. The husband and I had a chance to visit a few weeks ago, and I was impressed by the owner (Patrick) and his wife’s commitment to locally sourced, organic ingredients. Their artisanal breads, cakes, tarts, and savory dishes are made using exceptionally fresh, healthy, and environmentally responsible ingredients — even their building is made with reclaimed materials!
When we visited, we feasted on their tarts and pastries (especially this almond chocolate cake that was to die for), macarons, a “brownie cookie,” a farmer’s market salad, a tomato and olive flatbread, and of course: a kale and fig panini.
The owners were so gracious and kind, we walked out of there with one of their hand made Pear and Kale Levains (what a cool idea for a loaf of bread!!) Their breads are made using a long-fermentation, high-hydration, deck-oven method that brings out developed flavors and important nutrients in the wheat – and keeps the bread moist FOREVER. We literally had it on our counter in just a paper bag and it still tasted super fresh a week later. Oh and they have gluten-free options too!
So this bread + that gorgeous kale and fig panini that we had at Le Marais became the inspiration behind this recipe. I wanted to make the sandwich a bit more savory than sweet, so I opted to replace the figs with roasted garlic, sautéed spicy kale, and caramelized onions.
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- Extra virgin olive oil spray
- 1 8oz box baby kale (or 8oz of whole kale, chopped thinly)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 clove roasted garlic per sandwich (for directions on how to roast garlic, click here)
- 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
- Salt to taste
- 1 red onion, sliced thinly
- Fontina cheese: 1 oz per sandwich
- Good, whole grain, panini bread (I used the pear and kale levain from Le Marais)
Step 1: Sauté the kale with the garlic, crushed red pepper, olive oil, and a dash of salt until it’s wilted.
Step 2: In 1 tsp olive oil, sauté the onions until they are caramelized and golden brown.
Step 3: Assemble your sandwiches! Spread 1 clove of roasted garlic on one side of the sandwich. Top with 1 oz fontina cheese per sandwich, 1/4 of the caramelized onion mixture, 1/4 of the kale, and a dash of salt/pepper to taste.
Step 4: Grill in a panini press or a skillet until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy on the outside/soft on the inside.
This is a delicious way to get some extra greens into your diet, and is a healthified, dressed-up version of grilled cheese.
How could you not like that? 🙂
And this can easily be made on a weeknight because it takes less than 30 minutes to make. The husband loved it, and this type of panini has now made it into our regular weeknight dinner rotation!