Avocado and Veggie Panini With Pesto

Makes either 2 or 4 sandwiches.

Note: Look for an avocado that is just starting to soften around the stem, and let it sit out at room temperature until it gives a little to a gentle squeeze. If you prefer to use store-bought pesto, do so. If you use slices from a big, round loaf of whole-wheat bread, two sandwiches will be sufficient. If using a regular loaf, make four sandwiches. From Robin Asbell

• 10 oz. (or less, as preferred) frozen spinach, thawed

• Salt and pepper

• 3/4 c. fresh basil (see Note)

• 2 tbsp. pine nuts

• 1/2 garlic clove

• 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 6 large sun-dried tomato halves, soaked and drained

• 2 tbsp. shredded carrot

• 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed

• Oil for grilling

• 4 large slices whole-wheat bread (see Note)

• 1 medium avocado

Directions

Wring out the thawed spinach until almost dry, then put in a bowl and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Reserve.

To make pesto: In a food processor bowl, place the basil, pine nuts and garlic, and process until finely minced. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and olive oil, and process, scraping down as needed to make a thick paste. Transfer to a small bowl and reserve.

Slice the sun-dried tomatoes in strips and reserve.

To prepare vegetables: Heat the panini grill or a heavy-cast iron pan over high heat. Brush the hot grill or pan with oil and place the shiitake caps on the grate and close the grill. Grill or sauté until the caps are softened and browned, about 4 minutes on high, longer if sautéeing. Transfer the hot mushrooms to the cutting board and let cool, then slice in strips.

To assemble the sandwiches: Place 2 slices of bread on the cutting board and spread half of the pesto on each. Arrange sun-dried tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, spinach and carrot shreds on the pesto. Halve the avocado, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh into a bowl, and mash coarsely with a fork. Add a pinch of salt, stir and spread on the remaining 2 slices of bread, and place, avocado-side down, on top of the vegetables.

Brush oil on the hot panini grill or large pan and place the sandwiches on the hot grate. Close and grill for about 5 minutes, until browned and warmed through.

Nutrition information per each of 4 sandwiches:

Calories 305 Fat 15 g Sodium 500 mg

Carbohydrates 34 g Saturated fat 2 g Total sugars 5 g

Protein 11 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 9 g

Exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 2 starch, ½ medium-fat protein, 2 fat.