Friday, December 17, 2010

Pesto Panini

Last month I went to this woman's conference down town and we had to eat lunch "on campus." There wasn't a whole lot to choose from and everything was way over-priced. One of the lines was a vendor that was making paninis and since that was the only thing that sounded remotely appetizing I stood in it, even though it was the longest.

Time passed and as the other lines were getting smaller, the line I was in didn't seem to be moving AT ALL! However, I was bound and determined to get my panini so I stayed. Finally, I think I was about the last person in line, everyone was clearing out of the eating area and the conference was about to start back up again, but, hey, I got my panini. It was small for the price I paid for it but at least it came with a bag of chips.

So, long story, well, long, I got to eat my panini and loved every bite of it. I have been dreaming of it ever since. I finally got to make my own version of it it the other day, using the leftover pesto I made for this pizza. I don't have a panini press but I do have a grill pan. I just set a frying pan on top, with two cans in it to weigh it down and it worked like a charm. If you need a break from all the sugar and holiday sweets, give this fresh and herby sandwich a bite.

Pesto Panini
1 loaf country-style bread, sliced about 1-inch thick (or ciabatta sliced lengthwise)
olive oil for brushing
2-3 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
8 slices mozzarella cheese
balsamic vinegar
Basil Pesto (about 1/2-1/3 cup)
salt and pepper

Preheat electric panini maker, grill pan or non-stick skillet. Brush one side of each slice of bread with olive oil. Lay slices, oiled side down on a clean work surface. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the pesto on every other slice of bread, followed by the tomato slices, a splash of balsamic and mozzarella. Place the remaining slices of bread on top of the sandwiches, oiled side up.

Depending on the size of your pan, place one sandwich at a time in the pan and cook until the bread is golden. If you're not using a panini pan, flip the sandwich and cook on the other side until bread is golden and cheese is melted. Remove to a cutting board and cut in half. Serve immediately.

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