Veggie Paninis with a Chili Cheese spread

I was convinced that there was no food in our place. Not enough veggies, no tortillas, no inspiration. I had a cabinet full of seasonings and nothing to season. This is exactly the kind of situation where in the past, I'd give up on life and order takeout. Or, I'd decide that I had to fully restock my kitchen, run to Jewel (yuck, haven't shopped there in a couple years now thanks to TJ's and Mariano's) and buy everything from veggies to meats to dairy, kidding myself that I'd use it all before it rotted in the fridge two weeks later. Nowadays, I just open as many cabinets and drawers in the fridge as possible until I find something I can cook with. This time, I found enough to make a great panini.


  • Honey wheat whole grain bread
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced
  • 2 green chilis, minced
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan reggiano cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil spray


Toss sliced tomatoes and cucumbers with salt, pepper, rosemary, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar. Marinate in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Saute leeks in olive oil. When they soften, add spinach until it is warmed. Set leek/spinach mixture aside. Combine ricotta and parmesan-reggiano cheeses and season with salt and pepper. Saute green chilis in olive oil and add to cheeses to make the spicy cheese spread. Preheat the panini maker, spray bread slices with olive oil, and place on grill. Spread spicy cheese mixture on one bread slice and arrange marinated tomato/cucumber and leek/spinach mixture on top. Cover with other slice of bread and grill covered in panini maker for 15-30 seconds, just enough to melt the cheese thoroughly and flatten the bread a bit.