Summer Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Panini with Balsamic Syrup
Photo: John Autry; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 (8-ounce) piece Cuban bread, cut in half horizontally
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
12 large basil leaves
5 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
How to Make It
Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until reduced to 3 tablespoons (about 8 minutes).
While vinegar reduces, brush cut side of top half of bread with oil. Top evenly with basil, cheese, and tomatoes. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Brush cut side of bottom half of bread with reduced vinegar; place on top of sandwich. Invert sandwich.
Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add sandwich to pan. Place a cast-iron or heavy skillet on top of sandwich, and gently press to flatten. Leave skillet on; cook 3 minutes on each side or until cheese melts and bread is toasted. Cut sandwich into 4 equal pieces.
This is a very classic combination; tomato, basil and Mozzarella. The addition of reduced balsamic vinegar is a great idea. Unfortunately, the basil leaves were not enough to counteract the very sweet reduction. I would suggest rubbing the side of bread with extra virgin olive oil.
I made these for dinner tonight and took a couple of liberties with the recipe. First, I didn't want to risk ruining the balsamic so I just brushed it on the bread without reducing it. Second, I added bacon because my husband wanted some meat in the sandwich. It was delicious!!
I don't know what I did but my balsamic reduction hardened once I made it. I had to pry it off the spoon, pan, and spatula; therefore, there were hard globs of it on the sandwich. I have another recipe that uses pesto rather than balsamic and evoo as the "spread." I think I will stay with that sandwich rather than this one. This is one of the few recipes from CL that has been a bomb for me.