My partner Mia and I go through cycles of either eating no paninis at all for months on end or eating them multiple times a week, there is no inbetween. So recently, when we went through our latest panini craze, I decided to do a little test kitchen and develop a roasted vegetable panini, something I had often enjoyed from restaurants and cafés. The vegetables are roasted with a bit of maple syrup and balsamic vinegar to give them a sweet, acidic punch which complements the fat of the melted swiss cheese and pesto.
In terms of the vessel for all this delicious goodness (i.e. the bread) I did extensive testing to try and decide what type of bread was best used for this sandwich. From the classic grilled panini bread to sourdough, the bread I found to be best was funnily enough the bread I like best generally. So go ahead and make this sandwich on your own favorite bread, however, I will warn that generic store bought loaves may be squished on a panini press.
While on the subject of panini presses, I completely understand that this is a peripheral kitchen appliance and that most people do not own one. We only own one as it was a hand-me-down from my mom. However, this sandwich can also easily be grilled in a pan, as long as the insides are melty and the bread is toasted, all will be good! Just take the time to squish it down with a sturdy spatula as it cooks in the pan. Hopefully these paninis can satisfy your next panini craving, just as it satisfied ours!
Active time 20 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
- 2 small eggplants
- 3 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Favorite store bought pesto
- Sliced swiss cheese
- Favorite bread, sliced
- Butter, for grilling
- Salt & pepper
- About 30 minutes before beginning to cook, begin by slicing the eggplant in consistent slices of about 1 cm. Place them on a wire rack and generously sprinkle salt on both sides. This process will draw the water out of the eggplant and allow it to soak up the olive oil.
- Preheat the oven to 425F. In one lined sheet pan prepare the red bell peppers and red onion. Toss them with 2 tbsps of the olive oil, along with the maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, a few generous pinches of salt and a few cranks of black pepper.
- Pat dry the eggplant slices with a paper towel. Prepare them on another baking sheet by using a kitchen brush to spread the remaining olive oil on both sides of each slice (don’t be afraid to use more oil if you run out, we don’t want tough eggplant). Generously pinch salt over the eggplants again as well as some black pepper. Put both baking sheets into the oven. After 12 minutes flip the eggplants and toss the bell peppers & onion. Check again after 12 more minutes. Vegetables should be very tender and be thoroughly cooked all the way through.
- Prepare the sandwiches. Add pesto to both slices of the bread. Begin by adding a slice of swiss cheese, then piling up the roasted veggies and add another slice of swiss cheese to have cheese on both sides of the vegetables.
- Heat up the panini press or a large pan on medium heat. Add butter to the outside of the sandwich on both sides and grill on medium heat until the bread is browned and crispy and the inside is melted. Enjoy it while it’s hot!