Broccoli Chicken and Cheddar Panini

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting my very dear college roommate, Laura.  We only get to see each other about once a year, but each time, I feel like no time has passed and we slip right into the way things used to be.

Since we lived together for 3.5 years, we did our fair share of reminiscing over the weekend.  Our senior year, we lived with two other friends in a campus apartment and the four of us set up a meal rotation where we each cooked once a week.  I kicked things off by setting off the fire alarm and evacuating the entire apartment building.  My friends could barely contain themselves as we stood around with a bunch of co-eds wondering who in the world was dumb enough to set of the smoke detectors (I guess the secret’s out now!).  That was one of the first of many meals we shared together; some meals huge flops, others smashing successes, but all viewed through the rose colored glasses of fond memories.

Some of the meals that I do remember were Laura’s turkey burgers.  She paired a lot of creative flavors together, all of them delicious.  So, I was not surprised that when we started talking food this weekend, she suggested a panini with roasted broccoli, cheddar and turkey.  I was intrigued so I looked up the recipe immediately on my way home and made it the very next day.  Laura came through again with another delicious flavor combination.  The caramelized flavor of the broccoli pairs beautifully with the sharp tang of the cheddar cheese and the addition of roasted garlic adds a nice complexity.  The original recipe calls for focaccia bread and I substituted the gluten free version my sis posted a few weeks ago.  I also used grilled chicken instead of the turkey cold cuts called for in the original recipe.

The sandwich has few ingredients and comes together quickly.  Once you have roasted off some broccoli, you simply stack all of the ingredients on your bread of choice and then place the sandwich in a panini press or skillet with several heavy plates weighing it down.


The sandwich should cook until the cheese is thoroughly melted and the outside of the bread is browned and crispy.  If you are using a skillet, you should flip the sandwich half way through the cooking time.  Slice in half  and serve warm.


Broccoli Chicken and Cheddar Panini (adapted from Shutterbean)


2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 loaf of regular or gluten free focaccia (note: I used my sister’s version but topped it with shallots, parmesan and minced garlic)

8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 chicken breasts, prepared to your liking and sliced

1 tbsp butter


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss broccoli with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Roast on a baking sheet for 20-25 min until softened and nicely browned.  Divide the focaccia into four sections and slice each section in half.  Layer broccoli, chicken breast and 2 oz of cheese on each sandwich. Butter the panini press or skillet and cook sandwich until all of the ingredients are melded together and the cheese is nicely melted.  If you cook the sandwich in a skillet, be sure to weight it with several heavy plates or another skillet.  You should also flip the sandwich halfway through cooking.