Spring has sprung. Or at least that’s what we’re telling ourselves now that U.S. asparagus has shown up in the market.
We thought the first asparagus spears of the season deserved a special treatment. A sandwich was probably the last thing on our minds…until it occurred to us that a ham and Swiss with asparagus might be seriously good. And why not make the sandwich less about the ham and more about the asparagus while we were at it?
We happened to have a couple of light, fluffy Telera rolls on hand, along with some local Gruyere. We chopped the asparagus into 2-3 inch pieces, added some thinly sliced onion and tossed it in a lemon vinaigrette of sorts with a bit of lemon juice, some zest, olive oil and melted butter. Then we roasted the vegetables for 15-20 minutes in a hot oven.
A bit of pesto, a slice of ham, a slice of Swiss cheese for creaminess, and a few minutes on the Panini press, and we had ourselves some pretty delicious sandwiches.
Roasted Asparagus & Onion Panini
By Lori & Paul
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pound medium to large asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (sweet onions are best here, but Spanish onions work well)
3 Telera buns (see note)
basil pesto, to taste
3 ounces Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
3 slices thinly sliced prosciutto or ham
3 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
Whisk olive oil, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest together in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss vinaigrette with asparagus and onions and spread on a large roasting pan. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes – or until the asparagus is just tender and the vegetables are beginning to brown. Turn oven temperature down to 200ºF.
Slice Telera buns in half and spread with pesto. Add Gruyere, then ham (leave ham out for a vegetarian sammich), then Swiss cheese. Close the sandwiches and place as many as will fit on a grill pan or panini press for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the bread is crisp. Continue until all sandwiches have been grilled, keeping grilled sandwiches warm in a 200ºF oven.
Pull sandwiches apart and admire all the ooey-gooey cheese.
Then spoon asparagus and onion mixture inside. Close sandwiches, slice and serve.
Note: Telera refers to a Mexican bread similar to a French roll with a scored and flour-dusted crust. It can be found in Mexican markets; used to make tortas. You could also substitute soft French rolls.
asparagus, Gruyere, ham, panini, Swiss Cheese
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