A tasty (and easy) way to flog vegetables to your picky kids – Grilled Vegetable Paninis

Grilled Vegetable Panini

I am not much for cold foods. I like my food temperature hot. This holds true for sandwiches as well. So while a regular sandwich is perfectly serviceable, it is the grilled variety that I relish. After enjoying paninis at local eateries for years we decided to buy a panini press. After all, making paninis seemed pretty straightforward. And it was. Now, having grilled sandwiches on the panini press is a fairly regular item on our weekly menu. The recipe below is so easy to make that we make it when we are pressed for time and haven’t done much cooking preparation.

But before we get to the recipe here are a few foodydoody learnings for grilled sandwiches

1. Use white bread – sourdough, any kind of french bread, french baguette. It toasts well, looks great and tastes better IMO.

2. Avoid vegetables that have juices – for example tomato slices tend to run all over the place. My wife still likes her grilled tomato and cheese sandwich. I find it too runny.

3. Get creative with the filling – Use grilled veggies, sliced fake meat, real meat whatever takes your fancy.

4. It’s the sauce, stupid – No matter how good your filling is, the sauce that you slather on the panini makes a huge difference. The sauce I use below uses low fat mayo, honey, ketchup and hot sauce. You can also experiment with adding mustard, pickled artichokes, capers, roasted red pepper etc. NOTE: If you add chunky ingredients, you may need to puree the sauce before using it.

INGREDIENTS (for 4 sandwiches)

1 Green Pepper, seeded and cut into long thin strips

1 Red Pepper, seeded and cut into long thin strips

1 Zucchini cut into slices

1 Japanese eggplant cut diagonally into slices

Salt and Pepper

1 Tbsp cooking oil

For the sauce –

3 Tbsp of low fat mayo

1-2 Tbsp of honey

1-2 Tbsp of Tomato Ketchup

1 tsp of hot sauce

For the sandwiches

1 loaf white bread like Ciabatta, Focaccia, French bread or French baguette

Some good melting cheese like Mozzarella, Fontina or Cheddar – shredded

Ciabatta, Sauce and Grilled Veggies


  1. Grill the vegetables or stir fry them on high heat with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Mix your sauce together. Add more sweet (honey), or tang (ketchup) or heat (hot sauce) depending on your individual taste.
  3. Slice the bread and slather the sauce on both the inside sides. Be generous with the sauce.
  4. Layer the vegetables.
  5. Add cheese.
  6. Wrap the sandwich up in foil and put under a panini press for 5-6 mins (the time will vary by the press, please read the press’s instructions)
  7. Remove the sandwich from the press and check for doneness. The cheese should have melted and the sandwich should have the characteristic grill marks. If not done, stick it back in.
  8. Enjoy.

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