Who doesn’t love grilled vegetables in the summer time? Well, the veggie haters, of course. I love summer and all the produce you can find in the grocery store, farmers markets, and road side stands. Well, I have to be honest, here in Texas, we are a bit spoiled. We get awesome vegetables and fruits year round, for which I am grateful. And at a very affordable price. This scrumptious, (did I just say that?) and do people actually say that any more, Grilled Vegetable Panini recipe came from an idea I had when I entered a contest. It was a contest for sandwich recipes that included Wisconsin Cheese. I came up with three recipes and this was one of them.
The reason I love this recipe so much is that it is super simple but packed with so much flavor. It also is one of those recipes that will give you probably 3 servings of vegetables, easy. And finally, it can be used in so many ways…as a main meal, as a great lunch for work or at home and even an appetizer, if you cut the sandwich up into smaller portions.
So, what inspired me to create this flavor-packed panini? For starters, I love paninis. I own a great panini grill. Now, you don’t have to run out and buy one and you may be thinking that it is a waste of money to have an electric gadget just for making a sandwich. This one is awesome. You can grill sandwiches and make all those pretty grill marks on them. You can grill vegetables, meats, pretty much anything on it. And there is this great drip tray that catches any juices or other liquids that come off of whatever you are cooking. So back to what inspired me to come up with my recipe for Grilled Vegetable Panini. Bottom line, I love grilled or roasted vegetables. I probably make them three or four times a week, especially in the summer when you can get so many different varieties of squash, tomatoes, and other gorgeous veggies. So, I started with lightly seasoned grilled vegetables and paired them with cream cheese, pesto and mozzarella cheese. What really makes the sandwich come together is the grilling process of the sandwich. When you “grill” the sandwich, the cheeses melt and get so gooey. The aromatics from the cream cheese and the pesto flavor the vegetables perfectly, but don’t overpower, so you can still taste the freshness of the vegetables. That spells win-win! It ends up being like a grilled caprese salad, loaded with vegetables, in a sandwich.
So, I think the sandwich is perfect for summer, but can be enjoyed anytime using an indoor grill or panini press. I know you are all wondering, “Did she win the contest?” The answer is, sadly, No. If I had, I would have called this recipe Award Winning Grilled Vegetable Panini. But, that won’t stop me from creating, entering other contests, and sharing fun and delicious recipes with you. Happy grilling, happy summer, happy panini-making, from The Memorable Kitchen!
- 1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 4 pieces
- 2 thick onion slices (I used a sweet onion)
- 1 green or red pepper, cut in half
- 2 portobello mushrooms
- 6-8 asparagus spears, depending on the thickness
- 1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Italian Salad dressing or Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (optional)
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2-4 tablespoons prepared pesto (use Barilla brand)
- 4 slices mozzarella cheese
- 4 T onion and chive cream cheese
- 4 slices Italian bread, flatbread or focaccia bread
- Brush vegetables with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and seasonings, if desired. Grill in fry pan, grill pan, barbecue grill or panini grill on medium high heat for 3-4 minutes. In a frying pan or grill pan, turn after 2 minutes. Remove from grill, place on a plate.
- Brush with salad dressing or Balsamic vinegar.
- Lay out 4 slices of bread. Spread pesto on two of the slices of bread. Top those pieces of bread with the mozzarella cheese slices. Spread the cream cheese on the other two pieces of the bread. Fill bread, in layers with grilled vegetables.
- Close up sandwich, brush the outside lightly with olive oil and place on grill pan or panini grill.
- Grill on medium high heat for 5 minutes, turning if needed. Cut in half.