GINNA PARSONS: Paninis a hit in Big Apple

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

My husband and children and I spent five days of spring break in New York City. We did every touristy thing possible, and then some, and I have the blisters on my feet to prove it. But I would not trade one minute of the trip for anything, and that includes the two small meltdowns I had.
We visited three museums, took in a Broadway show, walked by Central Park, rode the Staten Island Ferry, paid our respects at Ground Zero, took pictures at the top of the Empire State Building, strolled through Tiffany’s, rode the old wooden escalators at Macy’s and ate, ate, ate our way through the Big Apple.
At most restaurants, we all chose something different from the menu, but on Tuesday at Brendan’s in Manhattan, we surprised each other when all four of us ordered the same chicken panini.
And, oh, was it ever good.
When we got back home, I looked for a recipe that was similar to the one we had. While I couldn’t fine the exact one, I did come across this recipe for Chicken Florentine Panini, which, by the way, was the $1,000,000 grand prize winner of the 2002 Pillsbury Bake-Off.

Chicken Florentine Panini
1 can Pillsbury Classic refrigerated pizza crust
1 (9-ounce) package frozen spinach
1⁄4 cup light mayonnaise
2 minced garlic cloves, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar (cider, red wine or balsamic)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1⁄2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
4 (4-inch) slices Provolone cheese
Unroll dough; place in an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool completely. Meanwhile, cook spinach as directed on package. Drain well. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and 1 minced garlic clove; mix well. Refrigerate.
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat until hot. Add onion; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp tender. Stir in sugar and vinegar. Reduce heat to low; simmer 3 to 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally.
With a meat mallet or rolling pin, flatten each piece of chicken to 1⁄4-inch thick. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and remaining clove of garlic.
Heat a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium high heat until hot. Add chicken and cook 8 minutes or until browned and done, turning once.
Cut cooled pizza into 4 rectangles. Spread each with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise mixture. Top 2 rectangles with chicken, spinach, onion mixture, cheese and remaining crust rectangles, mayonnaise side down.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Place sandwiches in skillet and place a smaller skillet on top to flatten sandwiches slightly. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until crisp and heated, turning once. Cut each warm sandwich into quarters.
Makes 4 servings.
Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/ garden editor.