It’s been gorgeous weather this week and I decided to pick up some veggies and make panini’s for dinner. I sliced and assembled my veggies and went outside to set up the grill. It was sunny and in the upper 70’s, just perfect outside but I noticed that the wind was picking up. I drizzled my sliced veggies with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper and began grilling. Everything was going well but the wind was just wicked. About the time I finished, I realized that big clouds were rolling in. I had just enough time to let the grill cool and get everything inside before it turned dark and started pouring rain. The veggies turned out perfect and I piled them together between sourdough bread with some fresh mozzarella cheese, spinach pesto and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. It was just the perfect combination!
Okay, first things first. It’s been awhile since I’ve made a balsamic reduction. But the basics are a good heavy bottomed sauce pot and a good balsamic vinegar. You can go cheap on the balsamic, no need for the expensive stuff but for an experiment I tried both “The Tasteful Olive” vinegar and a cheap grocery store brand. The Tasteful Olive’s vinegar is a bit thicker to start with so it cooked down quicker and also had a sweeter taste. The grocery brand took almost twice as long to cook down and was more tart. Just my experience. When making a balsamic reduction keep in mind that whatever amount you add to the pot you will want to reduce by at least half. I poured about a cup into my sauce pan with the intention of having 1/3 to 1/2 cup of glaze.
Heat over medium to bring to a low boil. Continue cooking down about 20 – 30 minutes. The longer it cooks the thicker it will become. I read that it should be the consistency of honey but you can reduce the vinegar even further to resemble molasses which is what happened with the Tasteful Olive vinegar. This vinegar on the stove now is the grocery brand and it took about 40 minutes to get to that honey consistency.
Now that I have my glaze made I can assemble the rest of the panini ingredients. Sourdough bread was my bread of choice, plus some sliced portabella’s, sliced zucchini, sliced red onion, cherry tomatoes, fresh spinach leaves and pesto. Also, I found some roasted red pepper in the freezer for Joe.
8 slices Sourdough Bread
1 medium Zucchini, sliced
3 slices Red Onion
3 Portabella Mushrooms, sliced thick
12 Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
Salt and Pepper
Heat up a gas grill. Drizzle veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill onion, zucchini, and mushrooms, turning often until they are soft and tender. Look for some slight charring on the outside. Roast the cherry tomatoes until the skin begins to split and they begin to char slightly. Let the tomatoes cool for a few minutes, then slice in half.
Butter sourdough slices to go face down on griddle. Spread some of the spinach pesto on one slice of the bread. Begin layering slices of fresh mozzarella, portabella mushrooms, zucchini slices, red onion, spinach leaves, and sliced tomatoes. Drizzle balsamic glaze over sandwich and place the remaining slice of sourdough on top, butter side up.
Heat a griddle and place sandwich butter side down. Set press on top and grill 3 – 4 minutes or until the bread is crisp and brown and cheese has melted. Flip sandwich and crisp the other side.
Makes 4 Panini Sandwiches