This sandwich will impress guests for lunch or for a casual dinner gathering, but is as easy to make as a regular grilled cheese sandwich.  My family loves it, as long as I leave off the basil leaves in the kids’ panini. (No green stuff!)

Panini Alla margherita

  • 4 slices of crusty white bread, thinly sliced (I use Panera Bread’s medium sized sourdough bread)
  • 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato tapenade (recipe follows)
  • 1 loaf fresh mozzarella (6 ounces), sliced
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

1.  Preheat panini press to medium.  (I actually use a Cuisinart griddle, which works like a George Foreman Grill.  You could also press them between two cast iron pans on the stove.)
2.  Spread half of the tapenade on one slice of bread.  Layer on one fourth of the cheese, 5 basil leaves, two slices of tomato, salt and pepper, and then another fourth of the cheese.  Top with another slice of bread.
3.  Lightly brush the outsides of the bread with olive oil.
4.  Repeat with remaining ingredients to form the other sandwich.
5.  Place in panini press until cheese is melted and grill marks are golden brown.

Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade

  • 4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1.  Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until well-mixed, but not too smooth.
2.  Freeze remainder for another use.

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