As my parents know, people close to me know, and maybe even you know, I am not a big sandwich person. I do love hamburgers and grilled cheeses, but my sandwich acceptance ends there. Maybe, someday, I will change; that’s the benefit of only being 20, I have MANY years ahead of me to become a full-time Sandwich Man. Until then, the Vegetarian Italian Panini has *temporarily* converted me!
This panini is PACKED with every good vegetarian ingredient under the sun. I absolutely love mushrooms, and this one has portobello caps that are seared off with soy sauce, to give them that extra, umami, meatiness you crave when you eat a big sandwich. The provolone is sharp and a little funky, and of course, melts into an Instagram-worthy cheese pull when you grill the whole sandwich together. The red onions add bite, the roasted red peppers are smoky and sweet, and the giardiniera, which is a medley of pickled vegetables, is perfectly briney and tangy. I’ve saved the best for last, which is the Basil! Balsamic! Mayo! Let me just warn you, you’re going to want to dip everything in this, you’re going to want to slather it on after the shower, you’re going to want to go ahead and quadruple the recipe as written! It’s literally that insanely delicious, and the main reason that I am a part-time Sandwich Man!
Vegetarian Italian Panini
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4-6 portobello mushroom caps
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 roasted red peppers
- 2 ounces sharp provolone grated or thinly sliced
- 2-3 thin slices red onion broken into rings
- ½ cup giardiniera finely chopped
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 small garlic clove grated (about ½ teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 loaf ciabatta sliced in half horizontally
- Heat a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add vegetable oil, heat until shimmering, then add portobello caps. Cook for 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown and reduced in size. Flip caps, season with salt, and cook for 8-10 minutes more, or until juices have released and cooked away. If needed, turn mushrooms so they are gill-side up, and drizzle 1 tablespoon of soy sauce evenly over mushrooms. Cook for 1 minute, then cook and flip for 2-3 minutes, or until soy sauce has cooked off. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain.
- Remove peppers from oil and cut into 2 or 3 large, flat pieces. Use paper towels to pat dry very thoroughly. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, basil, garlic, vinegar, salt, and pepper and mix well. Set aside.
- Heat a panini press, or a large, flat griddle, to medium-low heat.
- To assemble sandwich, divide basil balsamic mayonnaise between bottom and top of bread and spread evenly. Top the bottom half of the bread with mushrooms, cheese, peppers, red onion, and giardiniera in even layers. Top with top half of bread, then place on panini press and cook until sandwich is compressed and cheese is melted, 8-10 minutes. If using a griddle, press using a large, heavy skillet or pot to press the sandwich, cooking each side for 8-10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing into 4-6 pieces. Serve immediately.