This is my favorite sandwich all year round. The crunch of the bread with the warm, melted, cheesy filling… so yummy! The combinations are endless, too. Which I am saying there will definitely be other variations of this sandwich to come from me.
This recipe yields 4 large sandwiches using a baguette, or, one large muffaletta that can be sliced for up to 6 people.
Simple Vegetarian Panini
1 large eggplant, washed then cut lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices
1 large zucchini, washed then cut lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices
1 large summer squash, washed then cut lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices
4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into long pieces (you can also use shredded, but the fresh cheese is prefered)
4 tbsp grated Romano cheese
3 tsp salt
1 tsp of fresh cracked pepper
approx 3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil- drizzled to coat vegetables for cooking
2 tbsp tepid water
1 loaf of crusty bread not sliced. *I used a French baguette, but an Italian scali, ciabatta or muffaletta works great and is what I like too.
You will need:
– parchment to cover baking sheets
– tin foil to wrap the sandwiches
– a sturdy all metal stock pan to weigh down the sandwiches
– an extra baking sheet to hold the pan on top of the sandwiches
* If you have access to cook the vegetables on a grill, use it. It makes this dish even tastier, which is why I make this at least once a week during the Summer. Cook and eat outside with the family, that is my all time favorite pass time!
Preheat oven to 375.
Prep the vegetables.
1 Large eggplant, 1 Large Zucchini, and 1 Large Summer Squash
Wash and cut lengthwise into 1/4″ slices.
Drizzle some oil over the baking sheets, then lay the vegetables on top.
Season with the salt and pepper, add more if you feel needed, but the Romano cheese adds a lot of salty flavor. Then drizzle oil over the top.
All the veg prepped with s&p and olive oil
Place into oven.
After 20 minutes flip each slice over. Add water along the eggplant pan only.
Then all back in the oven to let roast for 15-20 more minutes until browned on both sides.
The summer squash and zucchini done
Once the veg is cooked remove from oven. But, leave the oven on.
Let the vegetables cool a minute so they can be handled easier for the sandwiches. Once cooled cut the zucchini and summer squash slices in half to fit in the sandwich. The eggplant size is fine as is.
Now it’s time to assemble the sandwich.
This night we used French Bread, but any hearty crusty fresh bread will work. Grated Romano and fresh mozzarella
If you use a baguette cut into the sized sandwiches you prefer, about 5″-6″ long shown.
If you use a larger bread that you plan to cut for everyone later, like a muffaletta, same instruction applies below except your bread isn’t cut, you are just going to use the ingredients as is all over.
With your hands, remove the interior crumb of the bread.
Take a large piece of foil, enough to cover one sandwich, and lay down on work surface.
On top of the foil, start to assemble the sandwich by sprinkling a little grated cheese on the top and on the bottom halves of the sandwich.
Add two slices of the mozzarella over each half of bread atop the sprinkled cheese. This will help keep the sandwich open so you can move to the next step.
Lay the vegetables to cover the tops and bottom, adding a sprinkle of grated cheese between slices. You will use about 1 tablespoon of grated cheese per sandwich.
The sandwich will contain three slices of each vegetable. For the zucchini/summer squash since you sliced them in half after they were cooked, this means three of the half pieces each, so it would equal 1.5 slices of each if whole.
Shown: the bread with crumb removed and with a sprinkle of grated cheese and two slices of the mozzarella
Panini assembled being wrapped
Once you have assemble the sandwich wrap it in the foil, and follow the same to complete all the sandwiches.
All wrapped in the tin foil
On a baking sheet, add the sandwiches in a row with a bit of space between.
Then set a baking sheet on top, press down on the sandwiches a touch. Then set the stock pot on top to keep that flat shape. *I can’t stress enough, the pot has to be all metal, no rubber or plastic handles.
Place in oven for 10 minutes, until all the cheese is melted.
Remove from oven. Make sure you place the heated metal items in a safe place where nothing can melt.
Then unwrap the sandwiches. Slice in half to display the delicious filling before you serve.