Turkey Artichoke Paninis

This recipe was inspired by one of our favorite places – Panera. Brett and I have always thought their “turkey artichoke” is just about the best sandwhich ever – served piping hot, and loaded with a creamy artichoke sauce. A few years back, to replicate this sandwich, I wanted to go all out with either an electric grill, or panini maker. I can’t remember for which birthday I requested a Cuisinart Griddler, but it has been a great addition to my various kitchen appliances! It has not only “grill plates” (with ridges as any other electric grill would have) but also “flat plates” for eggs, pancakes, etc. It also works great for burgers, steaks, etc.

I re-created this recipe based on ingredients that are in Panera’s turkey artichoke sandwich. No, it doesn’t taste identical, but that’s perfectly ok – there are likely one or two special ingredients which I’ve missed out on – but I can guarantee that my version is healthier and contains less preservatives/fat. If you don’t have an electric grill, its TOTALLY fine – this could easily be done by just sticking the sandwich in the oven until the bread is nice and toasted, and the inside sufficiently warmed.

Lastly, one reason I love this recipe is because it’s something Brett and I can do together. Whereas most meals, I cook and he does dishes, this meal is something I put together (i.e. make the sandwiches) and he cooks (i.e. works the griddler.) The very first time I used the griddler, I literally scorched our sandwiches – they were ruined! Since then, I’ve declared a strict “hand-off” rule: I am not to touch the griddler! A perfect excuse to let Brett do the cooking while I relax! 🙂

Turkey Artichoke Paninis

loaf of asiago cheese bread
1 lb deli turkey
6 oz cream cheese (we used fat-free and it tastes great)
1/2 can artichoke hearts (in water, not oil)
1 large tomato, cut into thin slices
1 red onion, cut into slices
salt and pepper

1. Carmelize the red onion by sauteeting in a bit of butter or oil until a deep purplish-brown. Taste a small piece – it should be sweet!
2. Finely chop the artichoke hearts and set aside.
3. Take your bread and slice into sandwhich-sized pieces. Spread cream cheese on both the top and bottom slice. Layer your sandwiches with turkey, tomato, artichoke, carmelized red onion, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Place your sandwiches on the grill, or in the oven, and cook until heated through.

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