My cooking fest of the bounty I bought at Trader Joe's continues! Jen B. pointed out a bag of frozen grilled eggplant and zucchini that she had bought recently and really liked. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but I figured it was worth throwing a package in my cart. Pretty easy to figure out why I spend so much money when I go there, huh? Anyway, the husband and I had paninis for dinner last Friday night, and when I was looking on RecipeZaar.com for panini ideas I saw this recipe and thought it sounded like a great way to use the frozen vegetables I had just bought. I'm copying the recipe from the Food Network website since it's a Giada recipe. I'm making some modifications from the original, which I'll note after the recipe.
Grilled Vegetable Panini
1/4 cup olive oil
2 small Japanese eggplants or 1 medium to large regular eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 small red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 baguettes (each about 2 feet long)
1/2 cup Basil Pesto
8 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese, drained, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
8 large basil leaves, optional
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle the oil over the eggplant, zucchini, and onion slices, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the eggplant, zucchini, and onions until they are tender and grill marks appear, about 4 minutes per side. Cool completely.
Cut each baguette into 6 pieces. Working with one baguette piece at a time, slice in half and spread both sides with the pesto. Working with the bottom slice of the baguette, stack 2 slices of eggplant, 2 slices zucchini, 1 slice onion, 1 slice tomato, 1 slice mozzarella, and 1 slice of roasted pepper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place top half of baguette on top and continue with remaining baguette. (The sandwiches can be made 4 hours ahead. Wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
Okay, so I don't have tomatoes, red onion, or basil. And I'm using already grilled vegetables, and after the sandwiches are assembled I'm going to put them into my panini press. I still have some pesto in my freezer that I got out to use, and it should be just the right amount for two sandwiches. Oh, and I'm going to use ciabbata rolls instead of baguettes.
I think I'll just bake some fries to go with this. I don't feel like I need a vegetable side since the main component of the sandwich is veggies. I'm excited to try a new panini!
Wow. These were super tasty!!! The husband was watching me assemble the sandwiches and said he could eat it without putting it in the panini press. I think pesto on paninis is my new most favorite thing. I love the flavor and taste and how the olive oil from the pesto seeps into the bread. I wish I had more ciabatta rolls so we could have had more sandwiches last night. I have quite a bit of eggplant and zucchini left, so I'm trying to figure out what to do with those. I'll definitely buy those again from Trader Joe's!