If you don’t have a panini maker (one of my favorite kitchen tools), you can use a grill pan, skillet, or toaster oven to make these decorative, rustic sandwiches. You can fill your panini hearts with any sandwich ingredients you like—cheese, vegetables, ham, turkey, bacon—you name it! They’re also fabulous with peanut butter and bananas, or as dessert s’more sandwiches.
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
- 1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 1 loaf of rustic whole wheat or sourdough bread, sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 12 fresh basil leaves
Place the tomato slices in a mixing bowl. Pour the balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes and add the dried oregano. Season with salt and pepper, and turn the tomatoes over a few times to let them soak up the vinegar mixture. Set aside to marinate.
With a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out 12 bread hearts. Brush lightly with olive oil. Lay the hearts out on a countertop or tray, and assemble the sandwiches. Start with one sliced bread heart, and top with mozzarella cheese slices, marinated tomato slices, a few basil leaves, and more mozzarella. Top with another sliced bread heart.
Press the sandwiches in a hot panini maker or preheated grill pan over medium heat. If using a grill pan, press down on the sandwiches with a spatula or flat-bottomed baking dish to create that “panini” look.