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.
RELATED: Classically French Tian Provencal
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.
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
This panini calls to chiffonade the herbs. Need a refresher? Here’s how to chiffonade:Print
Classic Boulangerie Provence Panini
A classic boulangerie Provence Panini made easy at home.
4 lunch-size baguettes, halved 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
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 the work surface oiled side down. Layer with mozzarella and tomato slices. Season lightly with salt and pepper if desired. Chiffonade basil leaves and spread over the mozzarella (see video above). Also sprinkle the tomato with the basil shreds and slice. 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 halfway through cooking.