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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.


After 35 minutes I’m finally getting to that magical point.  You can see the line from where it started, it’s almost reduced by half.


Once you have the consistency you want, turn off the heat and let the glaze cool before transferring to a jar or a pour bottle.


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.

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Getting things set up while I fire up the grill.

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First up the onion slices.  These go on the hot grill with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Cook for 2 – 3 minutes on each side.  Set these aside and on to the next veggie.

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Same thing with the zucchini slices . . . olive oil, salt and pepper.  These will take a few more minutes than the onions.  Flip every 2 minutes to avoid burning.

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Just about done,  cooked through and soft but have some crispness on the outer edges.  Just the way I like them.

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On to the portabella slices.  A good drizzle of EVOO and some S & P.

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Doesn’t take but a few minutes, turn every couple minutes or so until they soften up.

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Same thing with the cherry tomatoes.

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The skin will start to split and you will begin to see a slight charring to show you they are ready.

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For easier assembly I cut the cherry tomatoes in half.  Everything’s ready to stack.  Forgot to include some fresh mozzarella in the pic but it’s a must.

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Time to assemble.  Butter each slice of sourdough bread which will go face down on the hot griddle.  Layer one slice with some fresh mozzarella slices and a layer of portabella slices.

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Add a couple slices of grilled zucchini.

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Some grilled red onions.

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A few leaves of spinach which will wilt slightly during the panini melt and taste so good.

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A layer of roasted cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.   Spread a layer of pesto on the other slice.

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Put the other sourdough slice on top, butter side up and start heating the griddle.

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Gently place the sandwich on the griddle and set the press on top.

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When the bread gets crisp flip over to the other side, about 3 – 4 minutes per side.  Press again.

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Crisp and hot with melted gooey cheese and tender grilled veggies.   And with each bite there’s a hint of balsamic sweetness that comes through.

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Grilled Veggie Panini with Balsamic Glaze

8 slices Sourdough Bread
Butter, softened
1 medium Zucchini, sliced
3 slices Red Onion
3 Portabella Mushrooms, sliced thick
12 Cherry Tomatoes
Spinach Leaves
Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
Spinach Pesto
Balsamic Glaze
Olive Oil
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