Broccoli, Cheddar, And Roasted Garlic Panini Recipe

Broccoli and cheese might be the classic childhood flavor combination that we never grow out of. Consider this the savory, grown-up version of grilled cheese, complete with an easy roasted garlic aioli, shredded sharp cheddar, and steamed broccoli (for your health, of course). The garlicky aioli uses mayonnaise to come together in no time once you've roasted garlic cloves. Even better, it doubles as a non-stick coating on the grilled cheese, eliminating the need for butter. That being said, nothing is stopping you from throwing a tablespoon of butter into the pan as the sandwich sizzles.

What is a panini (or, technically, a panino), anyways? Simply put, it's an Italian sandwich that gets toasted before serving. Ciabatta, baguette, and focaccia are all classic breads used for panini. If you can find one of those breads and you wish to use it for your broccoli panini, go for it! Otherwise, a thickly cut white bread will be perfect. Milk bread, brioche, and whole wheat breads are all perfectly fine for this recipe too. 

We'll use a skillet and a sandwich press (sometimes called a cast iron press or bacon press) to flatten this sandwich. If you have a panini press, this is obviously the perfect time to break it out and get it pre-heating.

Grab the ingredients for a broccoli, cheddar, and roasted garlic panini

Most panini are simple sandwiches, and that's the beauty of them. You'll only need five ingredients to prepare this broccoli, cheddar, and roasted garlic panini, but it will be so flavorful you'll be surprised there's not more in there. Start with some broccoli florets, which you'll steam and chop into smaller pieces so they blend into the melted cheese better. Fresh garlic will be needed for roasting and adding to mayonnaise, to create the "cheat" aioli. Besides that, all that's needed is bread and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. If you prefer a medium cheddar or want to use sliced instead, don't fret. Cheese is cheese and as long as it melts, you're good to use anything you want.

Step 1: Preheat the oven for the garlic

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Step 2: Cut the root end off of the garlic.

Cut the root end off of the garlic.

Step 3: Wrap the garlic up in foil

Enclose the garlic cloves in a small piece of foil, covering them completely.

Step 4: Cook the garlic for 1 hour

Place the foil packet in the oven for 1 hour, until the garlic cloves are golden in color and soft.

Step 5: Add broccoli to a plastic bag

Add the broccoli to a resealable plastic bag with about 1 teaspoon water. Close 3/4 of the way.

Step 6: Microwave the broccoli

Microwave the broccoli for 2 minutes to steam. Let cool.

Step 7: Chop the steamed broccoli into small pieces

Chop the broccoli into small pieces and set aside.

Step 8: Remove roasted garlic from skins

Squeeze 3 of roasted garlic cloves to release them from their skins, saving the rest of the cloves for later use.

Step 9: Mix the garlic into the mayonnaise

In a small bowl, mix the squeezed cloves into the mayonnaise.

Step 10: Spread the mayo on the bread

Spread garlicky mayonnaise on both sides of the bread slices.

Step 11: Preheat the skillet

Place a large skillet over medium heat and grease with cooking spray.

Step 12: Assemble the sandwich in the skillet

Place one slice of bread in the skillet and top with shredded cheese and broccoli.

Step 13: Add top slice of bread and cook 3 minutes

Add the top slice of bread and let cook for 3-5 minutes, until golden.

Step 14: Flip and press down

Gently flip the sandwich and push it down with a cast iron press. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until crispy.

Step 15: Serve the panini warm

Serve sandwiches while warm and gooey.

What are the best cheeses to use in a panini?

We chose to use a sharp white cheddar in this recipe. It's a classic pairing with broccoli florets, and it goes excellently with roasted garlic. If you wanna swap in some other cheeses, though, you may be wondering what some other good options are. Cheeses that melt when heated are going to be best here. In general, it's going to be best to grate your cheese from a fresh block yourself if you have the time to. Pre-shredded cheeses often include anti-clumping agents like cornstarch and citric acid, which changes the cheese slightly and can hinder a smooth melt.

Provolone, sliced mozzarella, and Swiss are all good options. Even gruyère would be excellent, although perhaps more expensive. Emmental, pizza cheese blends, or other shredded blends can work in a pinch, too. If you're vegan or avoiding dairy, you can swap out the cheddar, but try to find the best vegan cheese you can since some of them don't melt super well. 

What else can I make with roasted garlic?

Fresh garlic becomes something even better when it's roasted and allowed to caramelize and soften. The sometimes overpoweringly pungent flavor is calmed and sweetened, making a mellower garlic that you can use similarly to caramelized onions. For the most part, you can add roasted garlic into anything you'd use regular garlic in. Since it's not quite as strong as uncooked garlic, you may not even need a breath mint! 

Try replacing raw garlic in salad dressings or vinaigrettes, or smear some roasted cloves on a loaf of Italian bread with butter to make the best garlic bread you've ever had. We love using it in roasted garlic and spinach mashed potatoes for a fun take on a familiar classic. The roasted garlic aioli made in this recipe keeps for a week in the fridge and can also be used on any other sandwiches or as a dip for French fries. 

Broccoli, Cheddar, And Roasted Garlic Panini Recipe
4.8 from 12 ratings
Consider this the savory, grown-up version of grilled cheese, complete with a roasted garlic aioli, sharp cheddar, and broccoli (for your health, of course).
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
1.17
hours
Servings
1
Sandwich
roasted garlic broccoli panini
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 whole head garlic
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 2 slices thick white bread
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut the root end off of the garlic.
  3. Enclose the garlic cloves in a small piece of foil, covering them completely.
  4. Place the foil packet in the oven for 1 hour, until the garlic cloves are golden in color and soft.
  5. Add the broccoli to a resealable plastic bag with about 1 teaspoon water. Close ¾ of the way.
  6. Microwave the broccoli for 2 minutes to steam. Let cool.
  7. Chop the broccoli into small pieces and set aside.
  8. Squeeze 3 of roasted garlic cloves to release them from their skins, saving the rest of the cloves for later use.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the squeezed cloves into the mayonnaise.
  10. Spread garlicky mayonnaise on both sides of the bread slices.
  11. Place a large skillet over medium heat and grease with cooking spray.
  12. Place one slice of bread in the skillet and top with shredded cheese and broccoli.
  13. Add the top slice of bread and let cook for 3-5 minutes, until golden.
  14. Gently flip the sandwich and push it down with a cast iron press. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until crispy.
  15. Serve sandwiches while warm and gooey.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 224
Total Fat 16.2 g
Saturated Fat 5.4 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 25.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.6 g
Dietary Fiber 1.3 g
Total Sugars 1.3 g
Sodium 276.3 mg
Protein 7.7 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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