If you can't find French bread rolls, halve an 8-ounce baguette lengthwise, and cut into fourths. Serve with carrot sticks.
3 center-cut bacon slices
2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, halved lengthwise
4 cups baby spinach leaves
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 ounces reduced-fat white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
4 (2-ounce) French bread rolls, halved lengthwise
8 tomato slices
How to Make It
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon; cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pan using a slotted spoon; crumble. Add chicken to drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan. Add baby spinach to pan; cook 30 seconds or until spinach begins to wilt, stirring constantly. Stir in balsamic vinegar.
Combine cheddar cheese and cream cheese in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 30 seconds or until melted; stir with a whisk until smooth. Stir in bacon. Spread cheese mixture evenly over cut sides of rolls. Divide tomatoes evenly over bottom halves of rolls; top with chicken and spinach mixture. Top sandwiches with top halves of rolls. Return pan to medium heat. Coat both sides of sandwiches with cooking spray. Add sandwiches to pan. Place a cast-iron skillet on top of sandwiches; press gently to flatten. Cook sandwiches 3 minutes on each side or until bread is toasted (leave skillet on sandwiches as they cook). Cut each sandwich in half diagonally.
These were pretty good, the family loved them. I did not put the bacon in the cheese. And next time, definitely will use sharp cheddar vs. the medium which is what I had on hand. I only used one large chicken breast, sliced across the grain. I hollowed out the rolls before assembling them and putting them on the panini press. DD didn't want the spinach. Very filling.
My husband loved this! I did make some changes since I chose this recipe for it's lighter purpose. I used the smaller French bread rolls so I wouldn't have more bread than ingredients. I substituted the spinach/vinegar mash-up for plain lettuce. I also made the bacon in the oven so it wouldn't carry as much of the grease as it does if pan fried leaving the chicken to cook in olive oil. My best advice is to add plenty of spices (i.e. Italian, minced garlic, pepper, salt, and minced onion) as the chicken breast will be very bland otherwise. Once I made these changes we loved how it turned out in my opinion.
Next time I make this, I will use 2 (1 oz.) slices of hearty sandwich bread. The French bread rolls were so thick that I had to pile all the ingredients in a big heap to get them all piled into the sandwich. I will also not mix the crumbled bacon into the cheese mixture, because the cheese mixture needs to be spread on the bread before it cools and loses it pliability. I will also drain the extra bacon fat before adding the spinach because I feel like it was too much. With those changes, I will definitely make these again.
This was a great panini!!! I did drain some of the bacon grease off before cooking the chicken and spinach. The flavors were wonderful together. I used my panini press rather than the method suggested. Will add this recipe to my Friday night panini rotation.