Any combination of basil, mozzarella, and tomato is sure to be a winner in my book, so I'm completely kicking myself for not trying these paninis sooner. I've owned The Barefoot Contessa at Home for over 3 years now, and I always drool over this recipe, but have never gotten around to making it. I think the reason being is that I don't own a panini press, and I really wanted those cute little lines (yes, I'm that anal). Well a few weeks ago, I had a stroke of genius, and decided to weight them down on my grill (I do realize others have thought of this before me, but I felt pretty inventive). It worked like a charm, and we enjoyed some of the best sandwiches we've had in a long time. So simple, so delicious.
Tomato, Mozzarella, & Pesto Paninis
adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa at Home
makes 6 sandwiches
- 2 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes
- 1 (16-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella
- 12 slices bakery white bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick
- about 1 cup pesto
- kosher salt
- balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
Meanwhile, core the tomatoes and slice the tomatoes and mozzarella 1/4-inch thick.
Spread the bread slices out on a work surface. Pour olive oil into a small bowl, and using a pastry brush, brush each bread slice with the oil. Flip the slices over, and spread each slice evenly with pesto. On half the bread, place a layer of mozzarella (about 2 slices per sandwich), followed by a layer of tomato. Sprinkle the tomatoes with kosher salt and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Oil the grates of the grill, and working 3 sandwiches at a time, lay all the bread slices on the grill, and close the cover. After 2-3 minutes, you should have grill marks, make sandwiches, by laying the pesto-only slices on top. Weight the sandwiches down with either bricks wrapped well in foil, or heavy, oven-safe skillets. Alternatively, you could lay a baking sheet on top and weight that down with bricks.
Grill an additional 1-3 minutes, or until the mozarella starts to ooze. Repeat with remaining sandwiches. Cut each sandwich in half, and serve warm.