On days when a warming sun brightens my step, or a cool breeze ripples the leaves of the surrounding trees, it’s easy to dream of sitting at a corner boulangerie with a panini much like this, watching the sounds and sites and people of my community stroll by.
In fact, it’s more than a dream. It’s a fond memory and one I’ll repeat most likely, again and again.
This recipe is inspired by one of my favorite boulangeries. Simply put, it’s a baguette drizzled with a garlic infused balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette, layered with sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, chiffonades of basil, and Niçoise olives. A perfect lunch, anytime of the year.
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Although I love the ambiance of a familiar boulangerie, it’s just as quick and easy to make at home with a panini griddle or simply grilled on an outdoor grill or cast iron skillet. Served with a side salad, it makes a tasty and delicious meal.
Side note: Niçoise olives are grown in the Cote d’Azur – a region of the French Riviera — which makes them a perfect choice for our French Boulangerie Inspired Provence Panini
4 lunch-size baguettes, sliced in to half lengthwise or individual focaccia bread sliced horizontally
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinaigrette (see below)
4 ounces sliced fresh mozzarella
4-6 thin tomato slices (to fit across bread)
1/4 cup Niçoise olives, pitted and sliced (or amount to taste)
kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
8 large basil leaves
(Makes about 1 cup)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
I store mine in a mason jar in the refrigerator. It’s exceptional on seasonal salad greens!
If you’re using a panini press — preheat the griddle to 375°F (or follow it’s instructions).
Lightly brush the outside crust of the baguette with Balsamic Vinaigrette. Lay on work surface oiled side down. Layer with mozarella and tomato slices. Season lightly with salt and pepper if desired. Chiffonade basil leaves and sprinkle over the mozzarella. To chiffonade: layer the basil leaves on top of each other and roll into a cylinder. Slice the cylinder using a sharp knife to get shreds of basil. (To see a demonstration, here’s a YouTube Video to watch). Sprinkle the tomato with the basil shreds and sliced . Close the baguette.
Place the sandwiches on the preheated griddle. Cover and press lightly for about 30 seconds. Then bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes until the baguette is grill marked and the cheese is melted.
To grill outdoor or with a cast iron griddle, complete the steps above and place a heavy object on top of the baguette to achieve grill marks, flipping the panini half way through cooking.