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Day 297: Curried Lentil & Veg Hummus and Chocolate Panini

Check this out.

I was rummaging through the fridge, trying to identify the contents of the 7 or so yogurt containers in there. Some were yogurt. One was leftover lentil veg curry. It looked awful. And mushy. I wondered how to reheat it now that we don’t have a microwave (real estate in this kitchen is at its prime; the convection toaster oven won space with a view, close to all amenities). So on a whim, I put it in the food processor with a can of drained chick peas, a squirt of lemon juice and drizzle of olive oil and pureed it. It was perfect. I split and cut a few pitas, brushed the rough sides with a bit of oil and sprinkled them with Italian seasoning, and toasted them in the toaster oven to go with. (See? Microwaved pitas just wouldn’t have been the same.) And pulled out a bag of baby carrots from the market that didn’t even need peeling. This is the best kind of dinner when you’re eating at your desk.

I know I’ve been promising chocolate panini for awhile. If you are at all a fan of the chocolate croissant, you should make this. (They are far lower in fat than a croissant, and far healthier if you use canola oil.) They are good for all occasions; they are perfect with coffee, or tea, or as dessert. They are perfect paired with wine. If you crank them out at a party, you’ll make everyone happy. (Come to think of it, these would make great warmish Halloween treats for grown-ups who wind up at your door.) My sister borrowed my panini grill one morning when it was her turn to bring breakfast to the staff room. I realize these classify more as dessert than breakfast, but if Krispy Kremes and Pop Tarts make the cut, why not a little wedge of bread and square of dark chocolate?

I just finished writing an enormous paragraph on how heat transforms two otherwise very utilitarian ingredients into something far more transcendent, and then accidentally erased it. And I don’t feel like writing it all over again. And I wonder already how I came up with so much to say on how to make something so simple.

So. You slice the bread fairly thinly on a slight diagonal (only because it’s easier to bite into a crust that isn’t straight up and down) – I like to slice once completely through, then once almost, keeping one edge of crust intact, and then another slice through, so that I end up with little bread books that I can tuck a piece of chocolate into, rather than worry about the two slices and chocolate sliding around on each other. Brush the outsides of the bread with a little canola oil, then grill in a hot panini press. If you don’t have a panini press, cook them in a hot skillet like you would a grilled cheese sandwich, with a second skillet set on top and weighed down with a large can or something heavy enough to squish it a little as it cooks.

(Once you’ve tried it the real-chocolate way, you can go ahead and make some with Nutella.)


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11 comments on “Day 297: Curried Lentil & Veg Hummus and Chocolate Panini

  1. Buddiegirl
    October 24, 2008 at 12:22 am

    If I was ever stranded on a desert island, my four must have foods are bread, chocolate, tomatoes and cheese. Now you have given me a new way to enjoy two of them together to make a whole new treat.

    Just thinking about dark melting chocolate oozing out of warm buttery bread is making me drool on my keyboard.

    I am off to sleep now and I am sure that I will have sweet dreams with visions of chocolate dancing in my head.

  2. H.Peter
    October 24, 2008 at 5:59 am

    A brilliant idea. I love Chocolate croissants.

  3. Cheryl
    October 24, 2008 at 11:34 am

    I did not need to know this… bad news for the tummy. But thank-you!

  4. Dana McCauley
    October 24, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Julie, you are the ooey, gooey sandwich queen!

  5. Kathy
    October 25, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Oh my word, does that chocolate panini look absolutely divine. I bought some ciabatta buns today – would they work? I don’t have a panini maker but can use my fry pan and a brick or something.

  6. JulieVR
    October 25, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Ciabatta would be fantastic!!

  7. Vivian
    October 26, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Julie, you are an inspiration…now I just gotta try a white chocolate panini with a succulent fresh raspberry smushed inside too. Blog on, girl! Love it.

  8. Jane
    May 3, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Julie, I just discovered your site over the weekend and have already earmarked a number of your yummy looking recipes to try but, OMG, your chocolate paninis made me jump up and RUN to the kitchen! I have a real weakness for chocolate croissants that all began when I was 22 travelling around France and had my first-ever, warm out of the oven, pain au chocolat! Anywho, skip forward a number of years (cough, cough) to the present where I have since had to cut all cow dairy out of my life due to an allergy (thank god for goat dairy)and a reality that no longer includes croissants, chocolate or otherwise. Sigh. Then, you come along with this so simple and obvious solution that I’m smacking myself on the forehead even as I, yes RUN, to the kitchen and haul out the panini press! I actually made mine with a homemade french loaf I had on hand and it worked like a charm!

    So, verbose a response as this is, let it suffice to say that I think you ROCK! Thanks for transporting me back to the memories of mornings drinking cafe au lait et pain au chocolat and to reclaiming a forbidden treat!

  9. Stephanie
    July 11, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Oh, it definitely qualifies as breakfast…or lunch or dinner, well, you get the idea! And don’t knock the chocolate croissants — butter from grass-fed cows is actually far healthier than canola oil.

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