Sunday, May 16, 2010

Special Sandwich Part 1: Sun-dried Tomato Spread

As I told you all when I made my broccoli cheddar soup a couple of months ago, I worked at Panera Bread all through high school and during my first two years of college.  I love Panera, and I love Panera food, and unfortunately, being an undergrad means that 1) There are no Panera's near me and 2) I can't go out buying it all the time, anyways!  So, sometimes I like to make my versions of my Panera favorites.

I always loved the Smokehouse Turkey panini when I was at work, but after I looked at the nutrition facts for the sandwich, I steered clear of it!  It had tons of calories and fat, so I could only indulge every once in awhile.  It was a turkey panini with cheddar cheese, bacon, tomato, and a sun-dried tomato spread on Asiago foccacia (the best bread ever!).

My version of this panini is a little different; this version was out of "inspiration" rather than a direct copy.  For example, I thought grilled chicken would go nicely, and I didn't have any turkey, so I used that instead!  I call this the Cheddar Chicken Panini - and here is part one of it.  I had to make my own sun-dried tomato spread, which was a long recipe in and of itself.  So... here's the recipe for the sun-dried tomato spread!

What you'll need:
Counterclockwise from left: Garlic powder, tomato paste, crushed garlic, sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), salt, olive oil, sugar

How to make it:

First, measure out 3/4 of a cup of sun-dried tomatoes.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  And don't throw away the oil that the sun-dried tomatoes were packed in!

And dump them into the blender.  I decided to put in the tomatoes first because I wanted them to get chopped up well.

Now, measure just under 1/4 of a cup of olive oil.  Why don't we measure the full amount now, you ask?

Because we add in some of the olive oil that the tomatoes were in!  Fill it up to the 1/4 cup line and add it into the blender.

Now, we want 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic into the blender as well.  I used my garlic press, so it was really easy!  You'll probably need around 3 cloves.

Spices next!  Add 1 teaspoon garlic powder...

...1 teaspoon sugar...

...and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Chop up some fresh basil and add it in, too.  If it's not very fine, that's okay - it will get chopped up more in the blender.  2 tablespoons will do.

And if you're a dummy like me, chop a little extra for the second tablespoon.

Finally, the main component of the spread: 2 6-oz. cans of tomato paste.

This looks ready to blend!

Blend it well and it should look like this!  It took me a little while to get through the big chunks of tomato, but this felt about right.

Since there is so much, it's perfectly acceptable to freeze half for another time.  Trust me - this will last you forever and it will be plenty for your sandwich that we'll make... tomorrow!

Come back tomorrow for the full Cheddar Chicken Panini!

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