It's that time of year again...when it's hot and humid outside, I have to mow my lawn every 5 days, and the bugs sing louder than a freight train. Despite these downsides, summer in East Tennessee is pretty sweet. Everything is lush and green, the sunflowers are in bloom, and my garden is bursting with fresh produce.
My tomatoes are just starting to ripen and my basil plant is nearly up to my shoulders, so I decided it was time to make one of my favorite vegetarian dinners: a grilled Caprese sandwich.
How to Make a Caprese Sandwich
This Caprese Sandwich is a breeze to make. It takes just a little more effort than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!
Start with a loaf of Ciabatta bread and cut it in half lengthwise.
I find it helpful to use a serrated knife so that you don't pull out the insides of the bread while cutting.
Then spread generous amounts of pesto all over the loaf. I used jarred Barilla pesto but there are many delicious brands or you can even make your own!
Once that is finished, slice a ball of fresh mozzarella cheese and a big, juicy tomato and layer it on the sandwich. Then sprinkle on fresh basil leaves.
You can easily use sliced mozzarella cheese from the deli section of your grocery store, but I prefer the fresh mozzarella in the specialty cheese aisle. It is usually fresher and has a saltier flavor to it.
Drizzle on some balsamic vinaigrette. Any brand will do, but if I have the time, I prefer to make my own. There is an easy Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette included in this recipe for 30 Minute Grilled Chicken Artichoke Salad.
Do you know what these remind me of?
They taste like the Starbucks Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Sandwich.
They also make me think of the Tomato Mozzarella Panini from Panera Bread!
Now, put the top of the Ciabatta loaf back on and drizzle on some olive oil. I use a marinating brush to make sure it is fully covered. You can also use baking spray.
How to Grill a Panini
Do yourself a favor and cut your portions BEFORE you grill the tomato mozzarella paninis. If you try to cut them afterwards, they are often too hot or all the delicious insides ooze out.
Once cut, place the paninis inside the panini maker and set the top down. Grill them for about 4-5 minutes, or until the tops are browned and the cheese is melted.
Holy Moly, I could go for another one of these right now! They are so fresh, light, and bursting with flavor!
And if you have an abundance of these ingredients, try re-packaging them another night and make 5 Ingredient Tomato Basil Pizza!
Whatever you make for dinner tonight, I hope it is fabulous! Enjoy the rest of your summer, as hot as it may be, while the produce is fresh and bursting with flavor! Happy cooking y'all!
Grilled Caprese Sandwich
- Panini Maker or Grill Pan
- 1 loaf Ciabatta Bread
- 4 Tbsp pesto
- 4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 large tomato
- 8-12 fresh basil leaves
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
- 2 tbsp olive oil or baking spray
- Cut the Ciabatta bread in half lengthwise and spread the pesto on one side.
- On top of the pesto, layer on the cheese, tomato, and basil.
- Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.
- Put the top of the loaf back on and either spray with baking spray or spread on olive oil on both sides of the sandwich. Cut portion sizes before grilling.
- Grill in a panini maker for 5 minutes or until browned and cheese is melted. If using a grill pan, flip at the 3-4 minute mark and grill the other side the same amount.