Have you ever had a caprese salad? The large tomatoes slices with fresh mozzarella on top with a leaf of basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.. or some variation of that? That is how my mom would always make it and I loved it! When I first moved to Loma Linda I went to a luncheon with a group of women who were all wives of medical students, and we had caprese Panini’s for lunch. That was the beginning of my love for these sandwiches!
Before we get too far into this post, did you know that you pronounce caprese like “ca-pray-say”?? I’ve never once said it like that before and then I watched a show on the Food Network and that’s how they all pronounced the word. Mind blown!
This is probably the easiest hot sandwich you will ever make, and also probably the freshest hot sandwich too. To me, this sings summertime because of the juicy tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. In my version I added some freshly made pesto sauce to bring out the basil flavor even more. Another option would be to make a balsamic reduction and drizzle a little of that over the whole sandwich. YUM!
Here’s what you need:
- Fresh mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil leaves
- Pesto sauce
- Ciabatta bread, or other sandwich bread
Start by spreading some of the pesto sauce onto each half of the ciabatta bread or omit if you don’t have any. It really isn’t necessary, I just made a large batch of pesto earlier this week so adding it to this sandwich worked well for me!
Then using a really sharp serrated knife slice the fresh cheese, you’ll want to do this right out of the fridge since mozzarella cheese is super soft when you buy it fresh like this. I would recommend only buying fresh mozzarella cheese, don’t buy the packaged hard cheese, it just isn’t the same at all!
Slice up the tomatoes and lay those on top of the cheese.
If you want even more basil flavor, layer a few large basil leaves over the tomatoes.. this can be a little overwhelming so if you want you can roll up the basil leaves and chop them up and then sprinkle half of them over one sandwich. And then top the sandwich off with the ciabatta bun.
At this point, you can eat it as is, everything cool and the bread really soft… or
you can heat up a skillet over medium heat and then butter both sides of the ciabatta. Since I don’t have a panini maker I’m making this sandwich like I would a grilled cheese. Cook the first side a few minutes and then flip it over a few more. You just want to get the cheese really soft and gooey and the bread slightly toasted.
When it’s finished it’s glorious! Don’t get so excited that you forget to even pull the sandwich off the burner! The picture I took makes it look like it really burned, but it wasn’t. Just got a little more toasted than I wanted. This is what happens when I try and do too many things at once!
So don’t overcook yours like I did mine, but either way it’s delicious.
Then slice the sandwich in half and eat it up. Even though it wouldn’t be fresh produce in the fall or winter, this sandwich would be excellent for cooler weather and would be great paired with a cup of hot soup! I love all the different textures and flavors that come through – I only really used the pesto and basil for flavor and it was plenty. It tastes so fresh and I made it in about 5 minutes – which is perfect for those busy days.
This is an easy meal to put together for a luncheon with your girlfriends and also makes for a really great vegetarian meal!
I hope you make them soon while this produce is fresh and in season! Enjoy!
- 2 Ciabatta sandwich rolls
- 1 large ripe Tomato
- 1 ball Fresh Mozzarella
- 4 large Basil Leaves
- 2 Tablespoons fresh Pesto, optional
- Layer the pesto over the ciabatta
- Slice the cheese and lay that on the bottom bread
- Slice the tomato and lay that on top of the cheese
- Lay 2 basil leaves over each sandwich, OR chop them up and sprinkle over
- Top of the sandwich and then butter the top and bottom with some butter
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the sandwich like you would a grilled cheese
- Heat the first side 2 minutes and then the second side about a minute
- Cut in half and enjoy!