Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tomato Pesto Mozzarella Panini

When I found this recipe, I loved everything about it and was absolutely dying to try it. To me, it was a more "mature" version of grilled cheese, which is one of my favorite sandwiches.

Tomato Pesto Mozzarella Panini (Makes 3 Sandwiches)

1 large tomato
1 (8 oz.) ball of fresh mozzarella
6 slices white bread
1/2 cup pesto
kosher salt
unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat panini grill machine.

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella about 1/4-thick. Spread each slice of bread with an even layer of pesto. Place a layer of mozzarella on half of the bread and cover with a layer of tomato. Sprinkle the tomato with salt. Place the remaining slices of bread, pesto side down, on top. Spread the top and bottom of each sandwich with softened butter. Grill the sandwiches in batches on the panini grill for 2-3 minutes, until the mozzarella starts to melt. Cut in half and serve warm.

Observations/Suggestions: For starters, I stayed true to the recipe and opted for a ball of fresh mozzarella. It was my first experience with a ball of mozz, so I was surprised at the ultra mild flavor. However, I felt that the slices were much too thick. I would highly recommend thinly slicing the mozz and tomato. It will make the sandwich easier to eat and the mozz texture/taste not too overwhelming. You could opt for shredded mozzarella, but I think it may get too salty with the pesto. Which, by the way, I did not put salt on my tomatoes. The pesto brought more than enough salt to the sandwich. Also, I do not have a panini grill, so I used a pancake griddle and it worked great. Just make sure it's heated beforehand or your bread will get soggy. Which, speaking of the bread, did get soggy from the pesto. I would recommend slightly toasting the bread prior to putting pesto on it. And finally, for the butter, don't bother with a stick. I used the original version of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and it worked superb.

Recommended? Ummm... Yes. I hesitate only because the thick slices of mozz and tomato rubbed me the wrong way. If they are thin slices, then I will make it again. Perhaps grilled chicken in it would be nice, too?

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