Cauliflower Parmesan Paninis with Red Leaf Lettuce & Apple Salad

Cauliflower Parmesan Paninis

with Red Leaf Lettuce & Apple Salad

55 MIN
4 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

Tonight’s recipe adapts an Italian-American classic—eggplant parmesan—for the wintertime harvest. In lieu of eggplant, roasted cauliflower is perfect for layering with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. (Chefs, depending on what's freshest near you, your cauliflower may be white, orange, green or purple.) To take it a step further, we’re turning our cauliflower parm into paninis—using a heavy pot to press the sandwiches on the stovetop. And we’re serving more tomato sauce on the side for dipping, along with a crisp, refreshing salad.

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  • Nutrition
    PER SERVING
  • Calories
    770 Cals (est.)
fresh
ingredients
time-saving
tips & techniques
Prepare the ingredients:
1 Prepare the ingredients:

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Halve the rolls. Cut out and discard the cauliflower core; cut the head into bite-sized pieces. Peel and mince the garlic. Place the tomatoes in a bowl; gently break apart with your hands. Finely chop the parsley leaves and stems. Thinly slice the mozzarella cheese. Cut off and discard the root end of the lettuce; roughly chop the leaves. Roughly chop the walnuts. Core and thinly slice the apple.

Roast the cauliflower:
2 Roast the cauliflower:

Place the cauliflower on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange in a single, even layer and roast 17 to 19 minutes, or until lightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven.

Make the sauce:
3 Make the sauce:

While the cauliflower roasts, in a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 12 to 14 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and stir in all but a pinch of the parsley. Transfer to a bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Rinse and wipe out the pan.

Assemble the paninis:
4 Assemble the paninis:

Place the rolls on a clean, dry work surface. Spread a layer of the sauce onto the cut sides of the rolls (you will have extra sauce). Top with all but a pinch of the parmesan cheese. Evenly divide the roasted cauliflower and mozzarella cheese between the roll bottoms; season with salt and pepper. Complete with the roll tops.

Cook the paninis:
5 Cook the paninis:

In the same pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the paninis. Place a heavy pot on top to press them down. Cook, occasionally pressing down on the pot, 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until the rolls are browned and the cheese has melted. (If the pan seems dry, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil before flipping the paninis.) Transfer to a cutting board and cut in half; transfer to a serving dish.

Make the salad & serve your dish:
6 Make the salad & serve your dish:

To make the vinaigrette, place the vinegar in a bowl; slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, in a large bowl, combine the lettuce, walnuts and apple; season with salt and pepper. Add enough of the vinaigrette to coat (you may have extra). Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish. Transfer the remaining sauce to a serving dish; garnish with the remaining parmesan cheese and remaining parsley. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

1 Prepare the ingredients:

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Halve the rolls. Cut out and discard the cauliflower core; cut the head into bite-sized pieces. Peel and mince the garlic. Place the tomatoes in a bowl; gently break apart with your hands. Finely chop the parsley leaves and stems. Thinly slice the mozzarella cheese. Cut off and discard the root end of the lettuce; roughly chop the leaves. Roughly chop the walnuts. Core and thinly slice the apple.

2 Roast the cauliflower:

Place the cauliflower on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange in a single, even layer and roast 17 to 19 minutes, or until lightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven.

Roast the cauliflower:
Make the sauce:
3 Make the sauce:

While the cauliflower roasts, in a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 12 to 14 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and stir in all but a pinch of the parsley. Transfer to a bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Rinse and wipe out the pan.

4 Assemble the paninis:

Place the rolls on a clean, dry work surface. Spread a layer of the sauce onto the cut sides of the rolls (you will have extra sauce). Top with all but a pinch of the parmesan cheese. Evenly divide the roasted cauliflower and mozzarella cheese between the roll bottoms; season with salt and pepper. Complete with the roll tops.

Assemble the paninis:
Cook the paninis:
5 Cook the paninis:

In the same pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the paninis. Place a heavy pot on top to press them down. Cook, occasionally pressing down on the pot, 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until the rolls are browned and the cheese has melted. (If the pan seems dry, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil before flipping the paninis.) Transfer to a cutting board and cut in half; transfer to a serving dish.

6 Make the salad & serve your dish:

To make the vinaigrette, place the vinegar in a bowl; slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, in a large bowl, combine the lettuce, walnuts and apple; season with salt and pepper. Add enough of the vinaigrette to coat (you may have extra). Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish. Transfer the remaining sauce to a serving dish; garnish with the remaining parmesan cheese and remaining parsley. Enjoy!

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