Panini lovers unite! The world's best grilled cheese sandwich™ has entered the chat, and has a word to share.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll skip the part where I describe this sandwich o' magic, and we'll get right to building it so it can be on our plate that much quicker.
What you'll need to make this magical roasted cherry tomato mozzarella panini recipe:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Balsamic glaze
- Salt and pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- Sourdough bread
- Fresh mozzarella
- Fresh basil leaves
Full measurements and instructions included in the printable recipe card below.
Before we get into the instructions, let's talk about one of my favorite subjects...CARBS.
More specifically, our bread choices for this epic sandwich. Lots of delicious bakery bread options are available. My favorite bread for this particular sandwich is sourdough. I like the flavor, the way it crisps up in the panini press and the ratio of carb-to-cheesy-filling.
Starbucks tomato mozzarella panini is served on ciabatta sandwich rolls, which is another fine option. Focaccia bread or a focaccia roll are also tasty solutions to the bread dilemma.
The only breads I would avoid are the soft, store-bought bread slices that are very light and airy, especially if using a panini press. Those commercially produced loaves don't stand up as well under the pressure of the grill machine
Step by step instructions for this roasted tomato caprese sandwich:
- Preheat oven to 400℉.
2. Combine fresh cherry tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic glaze, red pepper, salt and pepper on a baking sheet. (The red pepper flakes give the sandwich a faintly spicy kick that's delicious and balances out the sweet glaze and creamy cheese. But if you're avoiding spice, leave it out!) Transfer to oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are blistered and lightly charred.
3. While tomatoes are roasting, build the rest of the tomato mozzarella sandwich. Spread one side of each piece of sourdough with softened butter and lay them, butter side down, on a cutting board. Divide the pesto among the slices of bread, spreading evenly from crust to crust.
4. Slice or break the fresh mozzarella cheese into small pieces and layer it over each piece of bread.
5. Once tomatoes are finished roasting, spoon the charred tomatoes in a thin layer on half of the bread slices. Finally, divide the fresh basil leaves among the sandwiches, and then close them.
6. If using a panini maker, preheat the press, and when ready, add a sandwich (or two, if it fits) and close grill to press.
7. If grilling on the stove top, heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium-low and place sandwiches into the pan. Cover the top slice of bread with a piece of parchment paper and press it down with a cast iron skillet to get that caprese panini vibe.
With the panini press, cook for 4-6 minutes, until the bread is deeply golden browned and crispy.
In the skillet, since you’re grilling just one side at a time, you’re looking at 4-6 minutes per side, depending on your heat level. Keep checking and remove only when you're satisfied with the crisp factor.
8. When finished, remove from pan, slice and serve with roasted cherry tomato and basil soup.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions for Tomato Mozzarella Panini:
Fresh creamy mozzarella cheese is transcendent in this sandwich, but it is by no means your only option. Mozzarella slices or shreds, as well as provolone, gouda and even Swiss cheese are melty and delicious on this gourmet sandwich.
You sure can. I prefer the roasted tomato vibe, not only because of the flavor complexity added when you roast them, but also because the tomatoes burst and release some of the water that might create a soggy-ish sandwich when using fresh, juicy tomatoes. If you're comfortable with that risk, thin slices of sweet roma tomatoes or just a vine-ripened medium tomato will add the tomato flavor you crave.
This perfect sandwich deserves a perfect side. So I have just four words for you.
Roasted. Cherry. Tomato. Soup.
You could skip the pesto and just use the fresh basil leaves in the sandwich. I sometimes just use a good pinch of dried oregano sprinkled over the cheese, or you could use a touch of dried Italian seasoning. If skipping the pesto, you might add a a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese to the sandwich to mimic some of the umami you get in the green jar.
This sandwich is best eaten freshly grilled, so I recommend making only what you plan to eat and save yourself the hassle of storing and reheating.
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