Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spanglish Panini Makeover {Recipe ReDux}

It's Oscar time. Hence this month's theme for the Recipe ReDux - dishes based on food scenes from favorite movies. I'm not an awards show watcher, but I do love a great movie (who doesn't?) so thought this month's topic was awesome. I sat for a few minutes thinking about all the fun and fancy movie dishes that I could give a healthy makeover...but my mind kept going back to the first movie food scene that popped into my head.

If you've never seen Spanglish, it's sort of a silly movie about a chef (Adam Sandler) who falls in love with his Spanish-speaking maid but who is already married to a crazy, high strung, runner-obsessed, yoga-master of a wife. I kind of love this movie, and every time it comes on TV I have to watch it. And there is one particular scene I've always loved - and which always makes me crave a sandwich.

Adam Sandler comes home late from working at his restaurant, pours himself a glass of wine and makes himself this amazing sandwich - a grilled cheese/BLT/fried egg sandwich hybrid that oozes comfort. It's gourmet diner food and looks so delicious (minus the bacon), like something you'd expect a chef to make himself after a long day's work. I actually don't think he even gets to eat the sandwich, since as he goes to take his first bite, a big fight erupts with the maid and her daughter.

But I digress. It's no secret that I'm a huge sandwich lover and often make paninis for weeknight dinners. But I always try to make them healthy-er and get a little creative with the fillings. So without further ado, here are my favorite healthy sandwich swaps.

1. Don't use butter. I use cooking spray on the George Forman griller, so the panini gets crispy without all the fat. That golden brown Green Apple & Smoked Cheddar Panini is made without the use of any butter whatsoever.

2. Use a small amount of cheese, and good bread. I usually use 1-2 slices of cheese, rather than the half pound you get on a deli sandwich. If you use good flavorful cheese like sharp cheddar or smoked gouda, that's really all you need. I also try to use healthy breads, like whole grain/whole wheat, Ezekiel sprouted wheat, or even low carb pita pockets and bagel thins.

3. Limit the fat. If I'm using a fried egg, which has plenty of fat in the yolk, I'll skip the sliced cheese and use a wedge of Laughing Cow Light instead, which only has 35 calories. It still adds a nice creaminess and flavor of cheese to the sandwich.

4. Pile on the veggies. Instead of only adding a few tomato slices, I add broccoli rabe, arugula, spinach, Granny Smith apples, or anything else green I have around. The Pesto Gouda, Broccoli Rabe and Tomato Jam panini is one of my all time favorites.

As is the classic summer tomato & arugula sandwich. This one features lox as a lean protein, and neufch√Ętel as a swap for higher fat cream cheese.

It also helps to roast the veggies so you get maximum flavor without extra fat. Roasted tomatoes are especially delicious, and are great in the Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Baguette with Goat Cheese. Mmm.

5. Use fun spreads. Homemade tomato jam, chutney or spicy dijon mustard are my favorites - they add tons of flavor without any fat, and go great with a variety of veggies. Mustard goes well with green apples and cheese, and tomato jam goes well with grilled onions, mushrooms and provolone cheese on rosemary bread.

Smashed avocados also make a great swap for mayo; avocado is full of good fats and tons of flavor, and often appears in Grown-Up Grilled Cheese sandwiches.

And if you want to make yourself the real deal Spanglish Sandwich, far be it from me to stop you. You can find the recipe here. Happy Oscar watching!

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  1. What a great sandwich round-up. Love the photo of the melty cheese - that's hard to capture w/ a camera! And I must see this movie - I haven't yet!

    1. It's a good one, definitely worth a watch! :)

  2. AHHH...great movie and great food scene. I always thought this sandwich looked TO DIE FOR even though I'm not a huge fan of eggs. How great of you to give step by step instructions on how to lighten it up at home.

    1. Agreed! I get hungry every time I watch it!

  3. I have never seen that movie - lame i know but i love the collection of your sandwiches and instructions to make it healthy. simply love it!!!

  4. OK - now I'm totally getting my panini press out for lunch! And what a great movie for this month's theme - I only saw it once but really liked it, Great sandwich pointers!

  5. So funny, I almost did that sandwich! i think I ate egg sandwiches for a month straight after seeing that movie. Food porn for sure!