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Grilled Veggie Panini with Balsamic Mayo

Have you ever seen a really delicious recipe, but you didn’t have the ingredients you needed to make it?  This happened to me a few years ago.  I watched an episode of Giada at Home with Giada De Laurentiis.  The Grilled Vegetable, Herb, and Goat Cheese Sandwiches she made sounded delicious!  I really wanted to make them, but I didn’t have any sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, or goat cheese.  I had just picked up some ciabatta bread, an eggplant, and a zucchini at the grocery store.  Since I had some of the ingredients, I decided to try to make my own version of a grilled veggie panini.

I pulled out my little George Foreman Grill and all of my ingredients.  I decided to replace the goat cheese with provolone. Provolone cheese is always in my refrigerator, and my whole family prefers it over goat cheese.  I also pulled out some balsamic vinegar and mayonnaise.  The flavor of the balsamic goes well with veggies, and my kids like a little bit of mayo on their sandwiches.

How to Make a Grilled Veggie Panini

I started by cutting my ciabatta bread in half and slicing my eggplant and zucchini.  The grill was plugged in and getting hot.  When it was ready, I mixed the eggplant and zucchini with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Then, I put some slices of eggplant on the grill.  After about two minutes, I flipped them over to the other side.   They cooked for about two more minutes before I removed them from the grill.

 

While the veggies were cooking, I mixed up some balsamic mayonnaise.  I took about a cup of mayo and mixed in three tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.  I spread a thin layer on both sides of the ciabatta bread.

Then, I put the zucchini on the George Foreman grill.  After it cooked for about three minutes on each side, I was ready to start assembling my sandwiches.

I knew I wanted the provolone cheese to be the glue that would hold my panini together.  I put a layer of cheese on the bottom piece of bread.  Then, I put a layer of my grilled eggplant.  Next, I put another layer of provolone followed by the grilled zucchini.  I put one more layer of cheese before adding the top layer of bread.  I used Sargento Thin Slices of provolone since there were a lot of layers of cheese.  That provided the perfect ratio of cheese to veggies.

Next, I sliced the sandwich into serving-size pieces.  I placed them on the George Foreman grill for just a few minutes to melt the cheese and to get some grill marks on the bread.  Then, my Grilled Veggie Panini was ready to serve.

The Grilled Veggie Panini was crispy on the outside and warm and cheesy on the inside.  The tangy balsamic mayonnaise paired perfectly with the grilled vegetables.  Everyone ate their whole sandwich, and J even had seconds.

Since that first time making the Grilled Veggie Panini, I’ve tried several different variations.  I added spinach and roasted red peppers when I had them.  I also tried it with the olive oil spread that Giada recommended in her original recipe.  Every time this panini has been delicious.  It is a really quick and easy recipe for dinner during the busy work week or for lunch over the weekend.  This has become one of our favorite sandwiches.  I’m so glad I decided to make it even though I was missing some ingredients.

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