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Loaded Caprese Panini

Loaded Caprese Panini

I’m so, so proud of this recipe. Doesn’t it look delicious!!! I can brag about this one shamelessly because… it’s not my creation. I’m so very EXCITED to introduce you to a feature of “mFd” that is a project so close to my heart. “Lil Chef Recipes”  I’m a mom of two incredible boys who LOVE to eat! (Literally, someone is ALWAYS eating in my house.) They also love to get busy in the kitchen. After over a decade of trying to “manage” this (think eggs broken on the floor, me tripping over kitchen stools as I grab a burning pan off the stove and more recently, the critiquing of my flavors, seasonings and ingredients – yeah that’s real people!)  I’ve decided to give in and use this ambition to my benefit. So, without further ado, this is the first addition of “LIL CHEF RECIPES”

We all love a basic Caprese salad and we also love the melty goodness of a panini. Why not combine the two with a kick!  This hearty dinner panini can be on the table in 20 minutes. Lil Chef has amazing ideas about cooking and flavor, so here goes… we are going to swap out the fresh basil for a simple pesto mayonnaise and add protein and savory Italian spice by incorporating hot capicola. I promise, this is one of the best panini’s you’ll ever eat!

6 Tbsp prepared pesto sauce
3 Tbsp low fat mayonnaise
4 Ciabatta rolls, sliced sandwich style
3 vine ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced (width of slice, about 1/4 inch)
1/2 lb deli-sliced capicola
2 Tbsp butter or non-stick cooking spray
Marinara sauce, for dipping

Mix the pesto sauce and mayo in a small bowl and set aside.  Lil Chef and I found it easiest to prep the remaining ingredients and lay out in an assembly line.

For panini’s, you need a good grill pan (not trying to get all fancy on you, but it’s a necessity!) I was born into a foodie family and I married into a foodie family. So, needless to say, many of the anniversaries that my hubby and I have celebrated (our families are HUGE into celebrating these milestones, and rightfully so!!!) have been commemorated by a gift that involves food. One such gift is this amazing grill pan.

Heat the grill pan to med-high heat.  You will need to grease the pan.  I used the butter because I wanted that beautiful golden-colored crust, but you can also use non-stick cooking cooking spray.

Assemble the sandwiches – Spread the pesto mayo on both pieces of each ciabatta roll. Layer with the capicola, fresh mozzarella and tomato.

Gently place on the grill pan.  Do not try to crowd your beautiful sandwiches.  For color and that perfect melty mozzarella goodness, they need a little space.  Lil Chef and I cooked two sandwiches at a time on my grill pan.   Cover the paninis with a grill pan press (or another heavy pan) to smoosh all the yummy goodness together.  Cook for 7-10 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt and you have some good golden color on the bottom side of the paninis.  Lift off grill pan press and gently flip your paninis.  Cook on that side, with the grill pan press on for another 5-6 minutes or until you can’t take it any longer and you just need a bite.

Serve immediately with your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.

Makes 4 servings.

#paninirecipes #caprese #hotsandwiches #lilchefrecipes #cookingwithkids #easydinners #dinnerpanini

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