Recipe developed for We Heart Local BC by Melissa Lucchetta: Season and Serve Blog
1 zucchini, sliced into 1 cm thick slices
1 Italian eggplant, sliced into 1 cm thick slices
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons pesto (homemade or store-bought)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 field tomato, sliced into ½ cm thick slices
4-6 slices mozzarella, sliced into ½ cm thick slices
1 loaf white bread such as ciabatta, sourdough, or baguette
Add the zucchini, eggplant, and red bell peppers into a large bowl along with the salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss everything together to coat evenly.
Heat a cast-iron griddle or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the vegetables on to a single layer on the pan/griddle and cook for 3-4 minutes per side. As there are a lot of vegetables, you may have to do this in batches. Flip the vegetables onto the other side once they have grill marks and have softened slightly. Continue cooking on the other side, flipping the vegetables as necessary until they have cooked through and have softened. Once the vegetables are done cooking, return them to the large mixing bowl and let them cool.
In a small bowl, combine the pesto and the mayonnaise. Set aside.
To cook the panini, heat the cast-iron griddle or frying pan again over medium-high heat. Use a bread knife to slice the loaf of bread in half across the middle, so that you have one long sandwich. Brush the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil evenly over both sides of the bread and the griddle/pan. If you’re using sliced bread, brush the olive oil on both sides of the bread and on the griddle/pan.
Place the bread cut-side down onto the griddle and grill for 2-3 minutes, until toasted. Once toasted, remove the bread from the pan, lower the heat to medium-low, and begin to build your panini.
Lay the grilled eggplant, zucchini and red peppers onto one side of the bread and top it with the sliced tomatoes and mozzarella. On the other side, spread the pesto mayonnaise. Place the pesto-mayonnaise side on top of the vegetable side and press down gently on the panini.
Carefully transfer the panini to the grill/pan and press it down using a spatula. Add a large plate to the top of the panini to further press the sandwich as it cooks. Cook the panini for 4-5 minutes per side, then flip, and cook for another 4-5 minutes. You should have nice golden grill marks on both sides and the panini should become denser and more compact as it cooks.
Once cooked, transfer to a cutting board and slice the panini into smaller sandwiches. Serve immediately and enjoy!