Zucchini & Mozzarella Pizza Paninis with Tomato Sauce & Romaine-Cucumber Salad

Zucchini & Mozzarella Pizza Paninis

with Tomato Sauce & Romaine-Cucumber Salad

30 MIN
4 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

Paninis, in the grilled and pressed form that became popular outside of their native Italy, were a delicious leap forward for the sandwich. This irresistible twist takes them a step further. We’re layering the typical elements of a pizza—tangy tomato sauce, basil, Parmesan and fluffy fresh mozzarella—together with zucchini between slices of crusty ciabatta. Instead of a panini press, we’re using a heavy pot to flatten and toast the sandwiches—helping the cheeses melt and the flavors meld. To complete the meal, we’re serving the paninis with a crunchy, refreshing romaine salad and tomato dipping sauce.

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

1 Prepare the ingredients:


Wash and dry the fresh produce. Slice the zucchini into ¼-inch-thick rounds on an angle. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Halve the rolls. Tear the mozzarella cheese into small pieces. Pick the basil leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Quarter and deseed the lemon. Peel the carrots and thinly slice into rounds. Cut off and discard the root ends of the romaine; roughly chop the leaves. Thinly slice the cucumber into rounds.

Cook the zucchini:
2 Cook the zucchini:

In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the zucchini and half the garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning once halfway through, 3 to 5 minutes, or until the zucchini has softened and the garlic is lightly browned. Remove from heat. Wipe out the pan.

Make the tomato sauce:

3 Make the tomato sauce:


While the zucchini cooks, in a small pot, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the remaining garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until softened and fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until slightly reduced in volume. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble the paninis:
4 Assemble the paninis:

Place the rolls on a clean, dry work surface, cut sides up. Divide half the mozzarella cheese between the roll bottoms. Top with the cooked zucchini, basil, ⅓ of the Parmesan cheese, ⅓ of the tomato sauce and the remaining mozzarella cheese; season with salt and pepper. Complete the paninis with the roll tops.

Cook the paninis:

5 Cook the paninis:


In the pan used to cook the zucchini, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the paninis; place a heavy pot on top of the paninis to press them down. Cook, occasionally pressing down on the pot, 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until the rolls are toasted and lightly browned and the cheese has melted. (If the pan seems dry, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil before flipping the paninis.) Transfer to a cutting board.

Make the salad & serve your dish:
6 Make the salad & serve your dish:

While the paninis cook, to make the dressing, in a bowl, combine the remaining Parmesan cheese and the juice of all 4 lemon wedges; season with salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined. Just before serving, in a large bowl, combine the romaine, carrots, cucumber and enough of the dressing to coat (you may have extra dressing). Toss to mix; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish. Halve the cooked paninis on an angle; transfer to a serving dish. Serve with the salad and remaining tomato sauce. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

1 Prepare the ingredients:


Wash and dry the fresh produce. Slice the zucchini into ¼-inch-thick rounds on an angle. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Halve the rolls. Tear the mozzarella cheese into small pieces. Pick the basil leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Quarter and deseed the lemon. Peel the carrots and thinly slice into rounds. Cut off and discard the root ends of the romaine; roughly chop the leaves. Thinly slice the cucumber into rounds.

2 Cook the zucchini:

In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the zucchini and half the garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning once halfway through, 3 to 5 minutes, or until the zucchini has softened and the garlic is lightly browned. Remove from heat. Wipe out the pan.

Cook the zucchini:
3 Make the tomato sauce:


While the zucchini cooks, in a small pot, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the remaining garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until softened and fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until slightly reduced in volume. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

4 Assemble the paninis:

Place the rolls on a clean, dry work surface, cut sides up. Divide half the mozzarella cheese between the roll bottoms. Top with the cooked zucchini, basil, ⅓ of the Parmesan cheese, ⅓ of the tomato sauce and the remaining mozzarella cheese; season with salt and pepper. Complete the paninis with the roll tops.

Assemble the paninis:
Cook the paninis:

5 Cook the paninis:


In the pan used to cook the zucchini, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the paninis; place a heavy pot on top of the paninis to press them down. Cook, occasionally pressing down on the pot, 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until the rolls are toasted and lightly browned and the cheese has melted. (If the pan seems dry, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil before flipping the paninis.) Transfer to a cutting board.

6 Make the salad & serve your dish:

While the paninis cook, to make the dressing, in a bowl, combine the remaining Parmesan cheese and the juice of all 4 lemon wedges; season with salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined. Just before serving, in a large bowl, combine the romaine, carrots, cucumber and enough of the dressing to coat (you may have extra dressing). Toss to mix; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish. Halve the cooked paninis on an angle; transfer to a serving dish. Serve with the salad and remaining tomato sauce. Enjoy!

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