Preparing Grilled Garden Vegetable Panini
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The end of summer means gardens and farmer’s markets are exploding with produce, but sometimes you get tired of only using them in a salad or as a side dish. Here is my recipe for Grilled Garden Vegetable Panini, which will keep your grill master enthusiastically busy, the garden harvested and your taste buds thrilled. These panini (the Italian word for “sandwiches”—a “sandwich” is a panino) are also wonderful to pack for a picnic. Simply assemble, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap, toss in the cooler and GO!
**Look for my upcoming “Italian Adventurer’s Journal” post series about my time in Vinci, Italy, living, eating and drinking DaVinci Wines, the Italian culture and cuisine. Buonissimi!
Grilled Garden Vegetable Panini
Juice of two lemons
Zest of two lemons
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 small eggplants (1 to 1 1/4 pounds), stem end removed, sliced lengthwise into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick strips)
2 small zucchini (3/4 pound), stem end removed, sliced lengthwise into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick strips)
2 small yellow squash (1/2 to 3/4 pound), stem end removed, sliced lengthwise into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick strips)
1 red bell pepper, cored, quartered
2 bunches scallions, trimmed to 6-inch lengths
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Balsamic vinegar for drizzling
1 8 ounce ball smoked mozzarella cheese, sliced into 8 pieces (regular fresh mozzarella may be substituted)
8 whole leaves fresh basil
8 slices of artisan bread (such as a Tuscan Boule, Ciabatta, or peasant loaf)
In a glass 1-cup measuring cup, place the lemon juice and add 4 times the amount of extra virgin olive oil (approximately 1/2 cup). Add the garlic and whisk together to form a vinaigrette. Set aside.
In a large re-sealable plastic bag, place the vegetables, salt and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette into the bag over the vegetables, seal the bag and gently toss the veggies and the vinaigrette together until evenly coated. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
Remove the vegetables from the bag, reserving the marinade. Grill the vegetables on an outdoor grill or, inside, use a grill pan, until they are tender and browned. [If neither is available, you may roast the vegetables on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 425-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and are nicely browned. Turn the vegetables once to brown evenly on both sides.]
Place the grilled vegetables on a platter, drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar.
To assemble the Panini: On a slice of bread, drizzle a little of the reserved marinade and then layer two slices of eggplant, 2 slices of zucchini, 2 slices of yellow squash, 1 slice of red pepper, 2 scallions, 2 slices of mozzarella, and 2 leaves of basil. Drizzle a little marinade on a second piece of bread and place on top of the mozzarella to form a sandwich. [Repeat to form 4 panini total.]
Toast the panini in a panini press or, in a hot grill pan over medium heat, grill the Panini, pressing down with a spatula, until they are pressed thin and toasted on both sides with grill marks. [If you don’t have a grill pan, you may use a cast iron skillet or whatever pan you would use to make toasted cheese sandwiches.]
Remove from the heat, cut in half and serve. Makes 4 panini.