Hard to believe it’s almost Canadian Thanksgiving here in southwestern Ontario. It’s a busy time of year for canning, freezing, and dehydrating to preserve the abundance of garden goodness, but alas, our growing season is definitely coming to an end. Time to enjoy the last of the fresh produce from our gardens and local farms. For us, this grilled vegetable panini hits the mark! Sure you can make this any time of year, I guess, but the taste of fresh local produce just can’t be beaten. That’s why you need to spark up the bbq and give this a go!
Really there is no rocket science to this ‘recipe’ but the flavours come together so well, you’ve got to try it. We combine the wonderful flavours of grilled eggplant, peppers, zucchini, and portobello mushrooms in these grilled and pressed panini. Then top them off with some fresh spinach, your favourite cheese, and a hefty drizzle of a basil-balsamic-garlic dressing. I’m telling you, this has got to be on your need-to-try list!
This is an easy make-ahead meal as the veggies can be grilled in advance for a quick panini dinner during the week. For some reason we find people hesitant to try eggplant but please don’t omit it! You will thank us! Dress the grilled eggplant with a bit of olive oil, garlic, salt, oregano, and balsamic vinegar then be sure to sneak a piece to taste-test! I guarantee you will be doing this more often once you try it! In fact, any of these grilled vegetables make great side dishes on their own, but together they create a flavour explosion!
My husband and I love goat cheese on these but my kids prefer the milder provolone cheese – let us know what your favourite cheese is on these paninis! The basil dressing we use gives an extra zing but is optional. If you want to try it, just take a good handful of fresh basil leaves, a small clove of garlic, a quarter teaspoon of salt, a pinch of black pepper, and 2 teaspoons each of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Pulse for 10 seconds in a food processor and you’re done. Drizzle over the top and enjoy!Print
Grilled vegetables in a pressed panini.
To make 3-4 large panini:
- 2 medium eggplant
- 2 baby zucchini
- 2 bell peppers, color of your choice
- 2 portobello mushrooms
- fresh spinach
- cheese of choice
- 2 cloves garlic
- olive oil
- black pepper
- balsamic vinegar
- Grill the pepper whole until the skin is charred. Peel off the skin, remove the seeds then tear or cut into quarters.
- Cut the eggplant and zucchini into slices no thicker than ¼ inch or 1cm. Place on the BBQ and grill on both sides until tender.
- Dress the grilled eggplant with 1 clove garlic finely chopped, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp oregano, and 1 tsp salt
- Remove the stems from the portobello mushrooms then drizzle them with a bit of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and black pepper before grilling. Slice the mushrooms on a diagonal about 1cm thick once cooked.
- Slice open a crusty ciabatta bun and grill the insides.
- Assemble the panini by layering the vegetables, drizzle them with some dressing then top with your favourite cheese and fresh spinach leaves.
- Place the top on the panini, put back on the hot grill with a heavy weight on top. Grill on one side for a few minutes then flip and grill the other side.
Just an FYI for timing, the zucchini and portobello mushrooms take longer than the eggplant to grill.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 30
- Category: panini
- Method: grill
Keywords: grilled vegetable panini