Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kicked Up Caprese Panini

So for today's recipe, I'm featuring my Kicked Up Caprese Panini. I love vegetables, and this panini has a bunch of fresh veggies on it. We bought some heirloom tomatoes at the farmer's market and then added red onions, marinated roasted red peppers, homemade pesto, fresh basil leaves, thick slices of buffalo mozzarella, and a balsamic reduction. Because the heirloom tomatoes were so juicy, I deseeded them a bit and let them dry off on a paper towel, so they wouldn't make the sandwich soggy. I also sprinkled them with a bit of salt & pepper to bring out their natural flavors. This has been our favorite sandwich to date. We're both still thinking about it. It was just so sweet and fresh, without being super heavy. And they always say that you eat with your eyes first, and this sandwich does not disappoint. All of the vibrant colors just make you want to eat it more. We will definitely be making this very soon... like maybe this weekend :)
Kicked Up Caprese Panini
The Perfect Balance Between Sweet & Salty
For the Balsamic Reduction:
¾C Balsamic Vinegar
¼C Brown Sugar

For the Homemade Pesto:
2C Fresh Basil Leaves, Packed
½C Parmesan Cheese, Freshly Grated
½C Olive Oil
½C Pine Nuts or Walnuts
3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1T Lemon Juice, Freshly Squeezed
Salt & Pepper, To Taste
For the Panini:
2 Slices of Rustic Bread
2T Olive Oil
4T Homemade Pesto
4 Slices of Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella
1 Small Heirloom Tomato, Patted Dry & Cut into Slices
2T Balsamic Reduction
4 Leaves of Fresh Basil
4 Red Onion Rings
1 Whole Marinated, Roasted Red Pepper, Patted Dry & Sliced into Halves
Salt & Pepper, To Taste

1. For the Balsamic Reduction: Bring the vinegar to a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer. When it reduces halfway, add in the brown sugar. Simmer some more until the vinegar become thick & syrupy and sticks to the back of a wooden spoon, about 20 minutes. As it cools it will also thicken up. Set aside.
2. For the Homemade Pesto: Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few time in a food processor. Add in the garlic cloves and pulse a few more times. Slowly add in the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and pulse again until blended. Add in the lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste, and then pulse one last time to distribute the final additions. Set aside.
3. Heat up your Panini press, electric grill, or a skillet to high heat.
4. To Assemble the Sandwich: Spread 2T of the homemade pesto on each slice of bread, then designate one slice of bread to be the bottom piece. Lay 2 slices of fresh mozzarella on top of the bottom slice of bread, and then top with the slices of heirloom tomato. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt & pepper. Drizzle the 2T of Balsamic Reduction over the tomato slices. Lay the leaves of fresh basil on top of the balsamic glaze (so that they stick), and then layer on the onions. Add the red peppers and the other 2 slices of mozzarella on top of the onions (to help keep all of the fillings from falling out). Finish the sandwich by topping it with the other slice of bread and brush 1T of olive oil on each of the outer surfaces of the bread slices.
5. To Cook the Panini: Grill or fry the sandwich for 4-5 minutes on each side until the bread is perfectly golden brown and extremely crunchy on the outside, but also making sure that all of the ingredients on the inside are warmed thoroughly and the cheeses are melted.
6. To Serve the Panini: Cut the Panini into halves & serve immediately.


  1. is "T" a tablespoon or teaspoon?

  2. Yes, sorry if I wasn't clear enough! Hope this helps!

    t= teaspoon