Light Grilled Vegetable Panini is a great lunch or dinner sandwich that is sure to satisfy. It comes together very quickly and is extremely filling. If you have a really hearty appetite, try adding a few slices of low fat, low sodium deli style ham or turkey.
Light Grilled Vegetable Panini
- 1 grill pan
- 1 strong spatula
- plastic wrap
- 1 blender
- ⅛ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch disks (or 1 small regular eggplant)
- 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch disks
- 1 small red onion, cut into 1/2 inch disks
- 1 large baguette (french bread or ciabatta bread work best)
- ¼ cup spinach pesto (recipe follows)
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, drained and sliced
- ¼ cup roasted red peppers
- 1 large tomato, sliced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
- 1 garlic cloves, peeled
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛-¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle the olive oil over the eggplant, zucchini, and onion slices, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until they are tender and grill marks appear, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.
- Cut the baguette into 4 equal pieces. Slice each piece in half lengthwise, and spread both sides with the pesto. On the “bottom” slice of baguette, stack 2 slices of eggplant, 2 slices zucchini, 1 slice onion, 1 slice tomato, 1 slice mozzarella, and 1 slice of roasted pepper (for each sandwich).
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place top half of baguette on top of veggies. Place the assembled sandwiches back on the grill pan and using a strong spatula, press down firmly for 30-45 seconds; turn the sandwich over and repeat (this will “smush” the sandwich together to make it easier to eat).
- The sandwiches can be made several hours before you plan on serving them, just wrap them well with plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge. When ready to serve, heat them in the toaster oven for a few minutes until warmed through.
- In a blender, pulse the spinach, garlic, salt, and pepper until finely chopped. With the blender still running, gradually add enough oil to form a smooth, thick consistency.
- Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese. (The pesto can be made 2 days ahead, just keep it covered in the fridge until ready to use.)
Alternative Method: Making Light Grilled Vegetable Panini using an Oven
If you don’t have a panini press or grill pan, worry not! You can still enjoy a delicious Light Grilled Vegetable Panini by using your oven. Here’s a step-by-step method to prepare this delectable dish using an oven.
- 1 medium-sized bell pepper, sliced
- 1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise
- 1 small eggplant, sliced
- 4 slices of sturdy bread (ciabatta, sourdough, or baguette)
- 4 slices of your favorite cheese (such as mozzarella or provolone)
- Olive oil, for brushing
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional: your choice of spreads or sauces (such as pesto or aioli)
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Arrange the sliced bell pepper, zucchini, and eggplant on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle some olive oil over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat the vegetables evenly.
- Roast the vegetables in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes or until they are tender and slightly caramelized. Keep an eye on them to prevent burning.
- While the vegetables are roasting, lightly brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil. Place the bread slices, oiled side down, on another baking sheet or directly on the oven rack.
- Once the vegetables are done, remove them from the oven and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C).
- Layer each bread slice with a slice of cheese, followed by the roasted vegetables. Optionally, spread your choice of spreads or sauces on the other side of the bread slices.
- Bring the two halves of the panini together to form a sandwich. Press gently to compress the ingredients.
- Place the assembled panini back in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted.
- Carefully remove the panini from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
By using the oven, you can achieve a similar crispy exterior and melted cheese goodness that you would get from a traditional panini press or grill. Enjoy your Light Grilled Vegetable Panini straight from the oven, and savor the delightful flavors of the roasted vegetables and melted cheese in every bite.
To ensure the best results for your Light Grilled Vegetable Panini, here are some helpful tips and tricks. We’ll also share insights on common mistakes to avoid, so you can master this recipe with ease.
- Preheat your grill or panini press: It’s essential to preheat your cooking surface before grilling the panini. This ensures that the bread gets crispy and golden while the vegetables cook to perfection.
- Use a sturdy bread: Opt for a sturdy bread like ciabatta, sourdough, or baguette. These types of bread hold up well to grilling and won’t become soggy.
- Oil or butter the bread: Before adding the ingredients, lightly brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil or spread a thin layer of butter. This will help create a deliciously crisp and golden exterior.
- Layer ingredients strategically: Start with a layer of cheese on both slices of bread, followed by the grilled vegetables. This will help the cheese melt evenly and bind the sandwich together.
- Don’t overload the panini: While it’s tempting to stuff your panini with as many ingredients as possible, be mindful not to overstuff it. Overloading can lead to an unevenly cooked sandwich and make it difficult to press down.
Now that you’ve mastered the art of making a delightful Light Grilled Vegetable Panini, let’s explore some serving suggestions. These recommendations will elevate your dining experience and complement the flavors of the panini.
- Recommend sides, garnishes, or beverages: Serve your Light Grilled Vegetable Panini with a side of mixed greens tossed in a light vinaigrette for a refreshing accompaniment. Add a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese or a drizzle of balsamic glaze for an extra burst of flavor. Pair it with a chilled iced tea or a glass of fruity white wine to complete the meal.
- Suggest different ways to serve: Get creative with your panini presentation! Cut the sandwich into bite-sized pieces and serve them as appetizers at parties or gatherings. You can also slice the panini diagonally and serve it alongside a bowl of tomato soup for a comforting lunch or dinner combo.
Can I make the Light Grilled Vegetable Panini ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can prepare the grilled vegetables in advance and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to enjoy the panini, assemble the sandwich and grill it to perfection.
How do I store the leftovers?
If you have any leftover Light Grilled Vegetable Panini, allow them to cool completely before wrapping them tightly in foil or placing them in an airtight container. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat, simply grill the panini on a panini press or in a skillet until warmed through.
Can I make this recipe without a panini press or grill?
Yes, you can! If you don’t have a panini press or grill, you can achieve similar results by using a stovetop grill pan or a regular skillet. Simply place the assembled panini in the pan and press it down with a heavy object, like a cast-iron skillet or a brick wrapped in foil.
Can I add meat to the panini?
Absolutely! If you’re not following a vegetarian diet, you can add grilled chicken, thinly sliced roast beef, or even cooked bacon to the panini. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Can I make this recipe gluten-free?
Certainly! To make the recipe gluten-free, opt for gluten-free bread or use gluten-free wraps. Ensure that all other ingredients, such as the grilled vegetables and cheese, are also gluten-free.
Looking for a healthy and flavorful sandwich option? Our Light Grilled Vegetable Panini recipe is here to satisfy your cravings. Discover cooking tips, serving suggestions, and an alternative oven method to prepare this delightful dish. Share the recipe with your loved ones and make sure to subscribe to our blog for future culinary delights!