Foodie Friday: Bacon Zucchini Panini

First Friday of the month:  Food / Recipe

Here’s a sandwich that is simple, healthy, filling, and delicious.

Between bringing and fetching the kids to and from school, running errands, house chores, tutoring, and grocery shopping, I have to do daily/weekly menu planning for the family, which includes snacks and packed lunch. You wouldn’t believe how happy I was to find this recipe (thanks Kris, for tweeting the link) that's a complete and simple meal on its own. A savory sandwich that even my boy enjoyed, and requested as his baon (packed lunch/snack) for three consecutive days last school year.  This will surely make multiple appearances in his lunchbox this year.

This panini recipe was inspired by this meatless sandwich melt, prepared by TV show host Paolo Abrera featured here on Green Living. His was made with shredded zucchini, three kinds of cheeses, spread on focaccia bread.

For a more filling lunch, I decided to add bits of leftover roast chicken meat to the veggie mix. The boy loves chicken. Another alternative I chose was to make this with bacon -- yes, bacon!

Okay, before the veggie lovers attack me on this one, I know it veered away from the original intention of making this a healthy no-meat meal. Bad mommy, baaaad! :p  But wouldn’t you agree that anything with bacon in it just tastes so damn good?! We don’t eat this everyday so I think we’ll be just fine. Unapologetically, I made this a few more times in a span of 2 weeks after my first attempt, thus, this version came to be. And look, the name rhymes too!


1 small zucchini (around 6 inches long), peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 strips of bacon, chopped
2 heads of fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
4-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped or chiffonade
1 sandwich-sized cut of focaccia (or any bread of your choice)
2 kinds of cheeses (I used cheddar cheese and mozzarella slices/squares)
olive oil
panini press/grill

To prepare:
Squeeze out liquid from grated zucchini. Set aside.
Heat pan.
Slice focaccia and lay the 2 cheese slices separately on each side of the sandwich. Stand-by on plate.

To cook:
In the pan, pour about half a tablespoon of olive oil.
Lightly brown garlic in oil. Add bacon, mushrooms and zucchini.
Saute a few minutes until veggies are done and bacon is slightly toasted.
Toss in basil and cook for another minute. Add ground pepper if desired.

Turn off heat. Scoop sandwich filling and spread a good amount on top of cheese-lined bread slice.
Cover and flatten the sandwich.
Place, press and toast in panini sandwich maker.

If you don’t have a panini press like me, simply toast sandwich on a separate non-stick pan or griddle:  Flip and press on each side under low to medium heat until nicely toasted and cheese has slightly melted.
Cut on the diagonal. Serve immediately, or wrap in foil for a delicious packed lunch.
Good for 1 or shared.

This is a very versatile sandwich that you can have any time of the day. Adding lean white meat or cooked ham, instead of bacon, would also work well for this sandwich. Omit the meat altogether for a light vegetarian panini. Sliced eggplant can substitute for zucchini. You may also use a different combination of cheeses, like gruyere, feta, or kesong puti as used in the original recipe.
Buon appetito!

Try another family favorite sandwich: Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast

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