Pesto Meatball & Mozzarella Paninis with Zucchini Slaw

Pesto Meatball & Mozzarella Paninis

with Zucchini Slaw

55 MIN
4 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

In this exciting take on meatball subs, we’re turning the deliciously saucy sandwiches into warm, crispy paninis. In lieu of a press, we’re using a heavy pot or pan to compress our sandwiches, melting the mozzarella and crisping the soft bread. And instead of the typical tomato sauce, a fresh arugula pesto brightens up the rich beef. For a unique side dish, we’re making a slaw with summery zucchini, which shine with just a quick marinade of lemon juice and garlic.

Get Cooking
  • Nutrition
    PER SERVING
  • Calories
    800 Cals (est.)
fresh
ingredients
time-saving
tips & techniques
Prepare the ingredients:
1 Prepare the ingredients:

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Halve the zucchini crosswise, then cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick sticks; transfer to a large bowl. Peel and finely chop the garlic; using the flat side of your knife, smash until it resembles a paste (or use a zester). Quarter and deseed the lemon. Peel and small dice the onion. Small dice the mozzarella cheese. Halve the rolls.

Make the slaw:
2 Make the slaw:

To the bowl of zucchini, add up to half the garlic paste (reserving the rest) and the juice of all 4 lemon wedges; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Set aside to marinate, stirring occasionally, for at least 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish.

Cook the arugula & make the pesto:
3 Cook the arugula & make the pesto:

While the slaw marinates, in a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the arugula; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until bright green and wilted. Transfer to a cutting board and finely chop. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the Parmesan cheese. Slowly stir in enough olive oil to create a rough paste; season with salt and pepper to taste. Wipe out the pan.

Make the pesto meatballs:
4 Make the pesto meatballs:

While the slaw continues to marinate, in a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, breadcrumbs, egg and remaining garlic paste; season with salt and pepper. Gently mix to combine. Using your hands, form the mixture into 24 to 26 equal-sized meatballs; transfer to a plate. In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the meatballs; cook, turning occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned on all sides and cooked through. Transfer to the bowl of pesto and toss to coat. Rinse and wipe out the pan.

Assemble the paninis:
5 Assemble the paninis:

Add the mozzarella cheese to the bowl of pesto meatballs; toss to thoroughly combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the rolls on a clean, dry work surface, cut sides up. Divide the pesto meatballs and cheese between the roll bottoms; season with salt and pepper. Complete the paninis with the roll tops.

Cook the paninis & serve your dish:
6 Cook the paninis & serve your dish:

In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the paninis; place a heavy pot or pan on top to press them down. Cook, occasionally pressing down on the pot, 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until the rolls are lightly browned and the mozzarella cheese has melted. (If the pan seems dry, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil before flipping the paninis.) Transfer to a cutting board and halve on an angle. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve with the slaw on the side. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

1 Prepare the ingredients:

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Halve the zucchini crosswise, then cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick sticks; transfer to a large bowl. Peel and finely chop the garlic; using the flat side of your knife, smash until it resembles a paste (or use a zester). Quarter and deseed the lemon. Peel and small dice the onion. Small dice the mozzarella cheese. Halve the rolls.

2 Make the slaw:

To the bowl of zucchini, add up to half the garlic paste (reserving the rest) and the juice of all 4 lemon wedges; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Set aside to marinate, stirring occasionally, for at least 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish.

Cook the arugula & make the pesto:
3 Cook the arugula & make the pesto:

While the slaw marinates, in a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the arugula; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until bright green and wilted. Transfer to a cutting board and finely chop. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the Parmesan cheese. Slowly stir in enough olive oil to create a rough paste; season with salt and pepper to taste. Wipe out the pan.

4 Make the pesto meatballs:

While the slaw continues to marinate, in a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, breadcrumbs, egg and remaining garlic paste; season with salt and pepper. Gently mix to combine. Using your hands, form the mixture into 24 to 26 equal-sized meatballs; transfer to a plate. In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the meatballs; cook, turning occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned on all sides and cooked through. Transfer to the bowl of pesto and toss to coat. Rinse and wipe out the pan.

Make the pesto meatballs:
Assemble the paninis:
5 Assemble the paninis:

Add the mozzarella cheese to the bowl of pesto meatballs; toss to thoroughly combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the rolls on a clean, dry work surface, cut sides up. Divide the pesto meatballs and cheese between the roll bottoms; season with salt and pepper. Complete the paninis with the roll tops.

6 Cook the paninis & serve your dish:

In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the paninis; place a heavy pot or pan on top to press them down. Cook, occasionally pressing down on the pot, 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until the rolls are lightly browned and the mozzarella cheese has melted. (If the pan seems dry, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil before flipping the paninis.) Transfer to a cutting board and halve on an angle. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve with the slaw on the side. Enjoy!

Cook the paninis & serve your dish:
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