Spinach Artichoke Paninis

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I really have to give the classic, ubiquitous spinach-artichoke dip some credit for helping me get over my aversion to vegetables and eat more wholesomely. Growing up, I was never a fan of spinach or artichokes and avoided them both whenever I could. But I always enjoyed the spinach-artichoke dip. I even ordered it at restaurants quite often.

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So I would willingly eat and always enjoyed this dip that contained both spinach and artichokes, yet I kept insisting that I hated both spinach and artichokes. Until the day came that I realized how completely stupid that sounded.

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And on that day I thought, “Get over yourself. You like spinach and artichokes in at least one preparation; isn’t there at least a teeny tiny chance you would like them in other preparations?” And so I decided to give them both a try. And you know what? I love spinach! And I love artichokes! Full stop.

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So then it got me thinking, if you have come around on these two produce items, aren’t there other foods that deserve a second chance? Turns out, yes there were (to say the least). And my world opened up to all the beautiful, healthy produce I’d been missing out on. Thus, I must say a big thank-you to the wonderful spinach-artichoke dip, an appetizer I still love on its own merits.

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So why not turn that dip into a pressed sandwich? Heck, yeah! This was beyond delicious, like fist pump and high five someone delicious. And also incredibly easy to throw together on a tired, busy weeknight. I used my handy-dandy sandwich press for this, mostly because I love it and feel I don’t utilize it enough. But you could always cook up these sandwiches on a griddle and use a hand-held panini press, or a heavy skillet to press them. If that’s the route you choose, be sure to butter the outsides of each sandwich first. Enjoy!

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Source: adapted from Kicked-Up Sandwiches by Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients:
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbs minced garlic
Kosher salt and black pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
18 oz. jarred marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
15 oz. baby spinach
8 oz. Brie cheese, rind removed if desired
4 oz. Monterey jack cheese, grated
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
16 slices White sandwich bread

Directions:
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the artichokes and cook another 2 minutes. Add the spinach in two batches and cook until wilted after each addition. When the spinach is nice and tender, remove from the heat.
Set a strainer over a bowl and add the spinach-artichoke mixture to it. Allow the excess liquid to drain, about 5 minutes.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the three cheeses, tearing the Brie into pieces as you add it in. Then add the warm spinach-artichoke mixture and stir until nicely combined and the cheese has begun to melt.
Assemble the sandwiches: evenly spread a packed half-cup of filling between two slices of bread. Repeat with the remaining bread slices and filling.
Preheat your panini press to manufacturer’s instructions. When ready, carefully place each sandwich onto the grates and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. Do this in batches if necessary. Remove, cut each sandwich in half and serve immediately.

2 responses to “Spinach Artichoke Paninis

  1. I’m reading through, looking at your gorgeous photos and thinking to myself
    On. A. Pizza. !
    But then I realized I’d done a spinach crust topped w/ Trader Joes artichoke antipasto, so that probably counts. Still, I think I’ll take your panini and perhaps turn it into a rolled pizza, FFF-a-boli style.
    Yesterday, you inspired me to make winter squash tacos, today, a pizza.
    Thanks, Julie!

    • Texan New Yorker

      Thanks so much! It’s so funny you mention pizza, because literally the minute after I’d posted this, my husband asked if I’d ever made a spinach-artichoke pizza. I said I didn’t think so and his immediate response was WHY NOT??? So I think it’s in my future too. And why have I never made or tried artichoke pesto?? That sounds delicious!

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