Sunday, February 17, 2013

Italian Sausage and Spinach Melt with Pumpkin Pesto Mayo

It's no secret I love pumpkin. By far my favorite member of the squash family, pumpkin is a delicious addition to sweet and savory dishes of all kinds, but this may be my most unique pumpkin creation yet. I'm probably playing up the role pumpkin plays in this dish a little much, but just a scant 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkin butter is an important element of the flavor profile of this dish. Just that little hint of sweetness accentuates the savory Italian sausage and herbaceous pesto, with the hearty rye bread providing an ideal backdrop for the melding of all the brilliant flavors. Recipes like this is one of the reasons I do so love a fancy sandwich for experimenting with flavor combinations and creating unexpected culinary experiences in ordinary dishes. My schizophrenic pantry provides me with ample opportunity to introduce ingredients that are ordinarily strangers, but this combination is delicious enough to pick up a couple extra things at the grocery store to try it yourself.

Italian Sausage and Spinach Melt with Pumpkin Pesto Mayo
serves 1

1 link sweet or hot Italian sausage, casing removed
1 ounce fresh spinach, washed, dried, and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon mayo
1/2 tablespoon prepared pesto
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin butter
2 slices dark rye bread
1 ounce shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat a pan over medium heat. Add Italian sausage to pan, breaking into small pieces. Cook until fat is rendered and sausage is no longer pink. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Remove pan from heat.

2. Meanwhile, combine mayo, pesto, and pumpkin butter in a small bowl and spread evenly over one slice of bread. Preheat a panini press. (Alternatively heat a pan over medium heat).

3. Spread cooked sausage and spinach evenly over the second slice of bread and top with the shredded cheese. Place first slice of bread on top, mayo side down.

4. Spray panini press (or pan) with nonstick cooking spray. Cook until cheese is melted and fillings are warmed through, flipping once if using a pan on the stove. Remove from heat, let sit for a  minute or two, then slice into two halves and serve promptly.

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