Grilled Veggie Sandwiches with Smoked Mozzarella and Pesto

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 3

For these meatless sandwiches, we tuck grilled bell peppers, zucchini and tomatoes between slices of whole wheat bread, and tie everything together with a vibrant herb pesto and smoked mozzarella cheese. Then we toast the sandwiches to golden brown perfection. Feel free to use a mix of herbs in the pesto or just 6 cups of fresh basil. You’ll have some leftover pesto, which will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It’s wonderful tossed with pasta, drizzled over seafood or stirred into your morning scrambled eggs.

Ingredients:

For the pesto:

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) pine nuts, toasted and cooled
  • 6 cups (6 oz./185 g) mixed fresh herbs, such as 3 cups (90 g) basil leaves, 1 cup (30 g) flat-leaf parsley leaves, 1 cup (30 g) dill sprigs, 1/2 cup (20 g) chopped chives and 1/2 cup (15 g) tarragon leaves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) slices
  • 2 zucchini, cut into 1/8-inch (3-mm) slices
  • 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 slices country-style whole wheat bread
  • 8 oz. (250 g) smoked mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (1/2 oz./15 g) loosely packed fresh basil leaves

Directions:

To make the herb pesto, with a food processor running, drop the garlic through the feed tube and process until minced. Add the Parmesan, pine nuts, herbs and lemon juice and process until finely chopped, about 30 seconds. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You will have about 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) pesto.

Prepare a hot fire in a grill, or preheat a grill pan over high heat.

Lightly brush the tomatoes, zucchini and bell peppers on both sides with olive oil and season with salt. Working in batches as needed, place the vegetables on the grill. Cook the tomatoes, turning once, until lightly charred and the juices are released, about 1 minute per side. Cook the zucchini, turning once, until lightly charred and softened, about 2 minutes per side. Cook the peppers, turning once, until softened and the skins are blistered, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the vegetables to a platter.

Lightly brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil. Turn 3 of the slices over and spread each with a heaping 2 Tbs. of the pesto. Top with the bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, smoked mozzarella, a few basil leaves and a few grinds of pepper. Cover each sandwich with one of the remaining bread slices, oiled side up.

Reduce the grill to medium-hot, or preheat the grill pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches as needed, place the sandwiches on the grill and cook, turning once, until the bread is well toasted and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board, cut in half and serve immediately. Serves 3.

Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen