Cumin-Roasted Squash And Feta Panini Recipe

These cumin-roasted squash paninis, created by recipe developer Tanika Douglas, are simple to put together and packed with punchy flavors. The heart of these paninis lies in the butternut squash, which is sliced, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled generously with cumin before being baked to tender perfection. The result? Squash that's both earthy and aromatic, a flavorful canvas for the rest of the panini.

But it's not just about the squash. Douglas tells us, "A tangy sauce steals the spotlight, marrying the brininess of capers and olives with the creamy richness of mayo. Add a dash of garlic and fresh parsley to the mix, and you've got a sauce that elevates these paninis to something special. Assembly is a breeze: A dollop of the sauce adorns each panini half, followed by layers of fresh baby spinach, sweet pre-roasted red peppers, cumin-roasted squash, and crumbly feta cheese." 

A quick trip to the sandwich press is the finishing touch. With each bite of panini, you're met with a toasty crunch that gives way to a medley of flavors. It's comfort food with a gourmet twist.

Gather the ingredients for the cumin-roasted squash and feta paninis

To create these paninis, you will need: butternut squash, olive oil, cumin powder, small loaves of Italian bread, baby spinach leaves, pre-roasted red peppers, feta cheese, capers, olives, mayonnaise, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. Douglas offers, "If butternut squash isn't on hand, acorn squash or pumpkin can step in admirably, carrying their unique flavors into the mix. For those seeking a quicker route, pre-cut squash from the store can save prep time without compromising on taste."

The sauce blends sliced olives and capers with mayonnaise, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. "To those on a plant-based diet, the mayo can be swapped for vegan mayo and the feta for vegan feta. Experiment with herbs like thyme or basil to impart a different herbal twist," Douglas says. 

As for the bread, any sturdy bread — ciabatta, focaccia, baguette, or sourdough — can stand in if Italian bread isn't available. Baby spinach contributes a fresh crunch, while a cup of pre-roasted red peppers adds sweetness and color. For a peppery kick, consider substituting the red peppers with roasted poblano or Anaheim peppers.

Step 1: Preheat the oven

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Step 2: Line trays

Line two trays with parchment paper.

Step 3: Prepare the squash

Lay the slices of squash onto the trays, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin.

Step 4: Bake the squash

Bake the squash slices for 30 minutes or until tender.

Step 5: Make the sauce

In a small bowl, mix together the capers, olives, mayonnaise, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Step 6: Slice the bread

Slice the bread in half lengthways.

Step 7: Add the sauce

Add a spoonful of sauce to four panini halves.

Step 8: Build the paninis

Top the four panini halves with the baby spinach, roasted peppers, roasted squash, and crumbled feta.

Step 9: Top the paninis

Top with the panini tops.

Step 10: Toast the paninis

Place the paninis into a sandwich press and toast for three minutes or until golden brown.

Step 11: Serve the paninis

Serve and enjoy.

Can I prepare these cumin-roasted squash paninis in advance?

These cumin-roasted squash paninis are great for prepping ahead and you can refrigerate them or freeze them for future enjoyment. Douglas tells us that these paninis can be entirely assembled the day before serving, "Follow the recipe, assembling the sandwiches with all the layers — roasted squash, spinach, red peppers, sauce, and feta — between the bread halves. Once assembled, wrap each sandwich tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container, and store it in the fridge. The next day, when you're ready to enjoy them, simply heat a sandwich press or panini press. Toast the refrigerated paninis for a few minutes until they achieve that golden-brown, crispy exterior and the ingredients inside are warmed through." 

If you're looking for a longer-term storage solution, these paninis can also be frozen for up to a month. Wrap the assembled sandwiches individually in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer-safe bag. When the craving strikes, take the frozen paninis out of the freezer and let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, pop them into the sandwich press until they're warmed through and crisped up on the outside.

This make-ahead and freeze-ahead capability adds convenience to meal planning. Whether it's for a quick weekday lunch or an impromptu gathering, having these paninis ready to toast straight from the fridge or freezer ensures that every bite is just as delicious as if they were freshly made.

How do I choose the best squash for cumin-roasted squash and feta paninis?

Selecting the perfect squash is key to creating Douglas' cumin-roasted squash paninis. Whether you're opting for butternut, acorn, or another variety, a few pointers can guide you to the best squash for your dish. "When perusing the squash section, start by examining the outer skin. Look for squash with a firm, unblemished exterior, free from cuts, bruises, or soft spots. The skin should have a consistent coloration, whether it's a deep orange for butternut squash or a vibrant green for acorn squash. Avoid any squash with mold, as this indicates spoilage," Douglas suggests.

Weight is also a good indicator of quality. Opt for squash that feels heavy for its size; this typically means it's dense and filled with more flesh. Check the stem. A sturdy, intact stem indicates that the squash is fresh and hasn't been mishandled. A green stem is another positive sign, suggesting that the squash was harvested more recently. Douglas adds, "For butternut squash specifically, the neck-to-bulb ratio matters. Choose squash with a longer neck and a smaller bulb, as this typically means there's more flesh and less seed cavity, giving you more usable squash for your recipe."

By considering these factors — skin condition, weight, stem, neck-to-bulb ratio, and a gentle tap test — you can confidently select the freshest, most flavorful squash for your cumin-roasted squash paninis.

Cumin-Roasted Squash And Feta Panini Recipe
5 from 24 ratings
Flavor-packed cumin-roasted butternut paninis are layered with tender squash, caper and olive mayonnaise, spinach, and feta for a hearty vegetarian sandwich.
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
35
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
sliced panini on plate
Total time: 50 minutes
Ingredients
  • For the squash
  • ½ butternut squash, sliced into 9 or 10 ⅓-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • For the sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped capers
  • ⅓ cup pitted sliced olives
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • For the paninis
  • 4 small loaves of Italian bread
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup pre-roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Line two trays with parchment paper.
  3. Lay the slices of squash onto the trays, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin.
  4. Bake the squash slices for 30 minutes or until tender.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the capers, olives, mayonnaise, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  6. Slice the bread in half lengthways.
  7. Add a spoonful of sauce to four panini halves.
  8. Top the four panini halves with the baby spinach, roasted peppers, roasted squash, and crumbled feta.
  9. Top with the panini tops.
  10. Place the paninis into a sandwich press and toast for three minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Serve and enjoy.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 1,111
Total Fat 54.4 g
Saturated Fat 11.3 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 42.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 127.1 g
Dietary Fiber 7.4 g
Total Sugars 13.6 g
Sodium 2,199.6 mg
Protein 28.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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