1 hr 30 mins
This Paneer Tikka Panini—informally dubbed, “The Paneerni” at Bare Bones HQ—is packed with vegetable goodness sandwiched between two thick layers of cheese. Slow and steady is the theme here as we roast our garlic, roast our eggplant, and marinate our paneer to use time to our advantage and build a superior sandwich. But with a little planning all of that rewarding deliciousness can be achieved during your lunch break, and it is oh so rewarding.
When we set out to pair our Lentil Curry Soup with a sandwich, we started with the idea that hearty lentil soup, warm curry spices, and earthy kale gives off a distinct cool-weather vibe. It reminds us of autumn and sweaters. So we paired it with a sandwich that is equally warm, comforting, and bursting with rustic flavor.
For the garlic and herb spread
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 1 head garlic
- ¼ cup parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
For the tikka marinade
- ¾ cup Greek yogurt
- 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
For the panini
- 1 loaf ciabatta or sperlonga bread
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 eggplant, trimmed and sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch thick pieces
- 1 zucchini or yellow squash, trimmed and sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch thick pieces
- 8 ounce block paneer
Make the tikka marinade
In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the tikka marinade ingredients and stir to combine. Place the block of paneer in the marinade and, using a spoon, gently spread the marinade around to cover the entire block. Once the block is entirely covered in the marinade, cover and store in the fridge for at least four hours.
🕓 Make ahead! The paneer can marinate overnight so feel free to make this a day ahead.
Make the garlic and herb spread
Preheat oven to 400ºF with the oven rack in the center position. Cut the head of garlic in half, cross-wise, leaving the skin intact. Brush each side of garlic with olive oil, then place in a sheet of aluminum foil. Loosely wrap the foil into a tent so that the garlic will steam inside. Bake for 45–60 minutes. Remove the foil from the oven, open and let cool. When the garlic is cool enough to touch, squeeze the cloves out into a medium mixing bowl. Add the cream cheese and parsley and stir vigorously until all of the cloves have blended into the mixture.
🕓 Make ahead! This garlic and herb spread can be made ahead and left in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Roast the paneer and vegetables
When it’s time to make the sandwiches, preheat the oven to 425ºF with one rack on the bottom position. Brush two large rimmed baking sheet with oil. Arrange the eggplant, squash, and whole paneer block on the baking sheets, evenly spaced so that nothing is touching. Bake on the lowest rack for 14–16 minutes or until the bottoms are browed but not burned. Remove from oven. Transfer the paneer to a cutting board and filet into two flat, thin sheets.
💡 Make use of leftovers Have leftover grilled or roasted vegetables in the fridge? Use them in this panini! Eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash are our favorites, but portobello mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, red onion and bell pepper work too!
Assemble and press the sandwich
Heat a panini press or extra large skillet on medium-high heat.
Slice a piece of ciabatta bread from the loaf, about 5–6 inches long, then cut through the middle so that there are two halves—a top and a bottom. Gently place half the paneer on the bottom piece, then layer half the eggplant and squash pieces on top. Take the top piece and, using the back of a spoon, evenly spread half of the garlic and herb mixture. Place the top half on the sandwich and cook in the panini press or skillet. If you don’t have a panini press—no problem! Take a heavy pan such as cast iron and place it on top of the sandwich while it cooks to create pressure that binds the sandwich together. Press for about 8–12 minutes—or until the sandwich is decently browned and crispy. Remove the top pan and carefully flip the sandwich. Continue to press, checking every 2 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. Once both sides are crispy, remove the sandwich and place on a cutting board. Repeat this process for the second sandwich. Cut crosswise and serve warm.