When it comes to making panini, (Italian for sandwiches), it begins and ends with the bread! I prefer using Ciabatta, an Italian rustic looking bread that is available in loaves and rolls. It is different from other breads because it is made from a lean yeast dough, meaning that there is no fat present in the dough. This creates a very chewy bread with a slightly crispy crust. Also, Ciabatta is made from a very wet dough which gives it its unique moist texture and one-of-a-kind flavor.
The soft, chewy texture and the big airy holes also make this delicious Italian bread perfect for dunking into soups or swiping up that last bit of sauce from a dinner plate. The ingredients listed are merely a suggestion. Feel free to use your favorite vegetables, cheese and greens. Panini can be made in advance and can feed a few or a crowd. Wrapped well in plastic wrap or foil (if they are to be heated), they travel well. Perfect for picnics anywhere. Enjoy at room temperature Serve with giardiniera. And for a fun dessert, try watermelon pizza and fruit and nut chocolate clusters.
- 1 loaf Ciabatta bread
- Eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- Roasted red peppers, sliced into strips
- Fresh tomatoes, sliced
- Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (Robust)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place on hot grill, cook until crisp-tender and well marked on both sides. Alternatively, you could place them on a baking sheet and broil until tender and toasted on both sides. Set aside.
- Toss the arugula with a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of balsamic, season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Cut the Ciabatta loaf lengthwise. Grill or broil until lightly toasted. Drizzle both halves with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt.
- To assemble, place dressed arugula on one half of the ciabatta, layer with tomatoes and cheese, followed by the eggplant and peppers you see on the other half (which I did so you had a clear visual). Top with the other bread half, pressing down slightly.
- To serve, slice into desired portions. Can be prepared in advance. Wrap tightly in foil and refrigerate. When ready to serve, remove from frig and allow to get to room temperature or warm in the oven or on a grill.