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Marry a crusty, chewy, herb-topped ciabatta roll with a tangy, smooth, vegan, mozzarella sauce, balanced out with a juicy sweet tomato and aromatic fresh basil; and you’ve got a culinary match made in vegan food heaven with this Vegan Caprese Panini!
Oh, how I love to sink my teeth into thick layers of crusty bread with a warm gooey flavorful filling spilling out! Messy? Probably…Delicious? Definitely!
After topping a pizza with my yummy Vegan Cashew Mozzarella Cheese Sauce, I was playing around with different ways to use up the rest of the tangy sauce, spied some extra tomatoes on my counter along with the basil and knew I’d be making a Caprese panini.
Looking for another tasty vegan sandwich, try my:
- Vegan Grilled Cheese with Herbed Mayo
- The best ever Vegan Egg Salad made with Chickpeas, or
- Curried Chickpea Salad – which is similar to a chicken salad sandwich
What is a panini?
Isn’t a panini just a grilled sandwich? Well…kind of…
A panini is technically just a small Italian bread roll. We’ve come to know a panini as being a grilled sandwich gently pressed and cooked in a panini maker (affiliate link).
This panini is made special with a blend of herbs in light flavored oil brushed over a crusty Italian roll before grilling for extra flavor. I use half a recipe for my Vegan Cashew Mozzarella. If you want to see the full recipe, click here.
The sandwich is gently pressed – (not too hard or the cheese sauce will squeeze out!) in a panini maker and grilled just until the bread is crusty and toasted and the filling is slightly warmed. This recipe makes enough for four people and doesn’t really keep well so be sure to adjust the ingredients if you are only making it for fewer.
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To make this Vegan Caprese Panini you will need:
(Please scroll to find a handy printable recipe card below with complete instructions and ingredient amounts.)
For the herbed oil:
- light flavored oil such as avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
- Italian seasoning
- garlic and onion powders
For the cashew mozzarella sauce:
- raw soaked cashews
- hot water for soaking
- room temperature water for blending
- lemon juice
- nutritional yeast
- white miso paste
- onion and garlic powders
- tapioca flour
- (you will also need a high speed blender and a sauce pan – affiliate links)
For the sandwich:
- Ciabatta or similar Italian flat rolls
- roma tomatoes
- fresh basil leaves
Making the herb-infused oil:
Use a light tasting oil. I know a lot of vegan cooks like to use coconut oil. In this case, it really will be too flavorful. I have made this sandwich using melted vegan butter. Again, I feel it is too flavorful. Just use a light oil such as a light tasting olive oil or avocado oil.
I like to make the flavored oil ahead of time so the dried herbs have a chance to soften and the flavors infuse well.
Making the Cashew Mozzarella Sauce:
If you are new to using cashews in vegan sauces, please see the original post for Vegan Cashew Mozzarella.
You will need to soak and drain the raw cashews. Use hot water for soaking the cashews. Drain the used water and use fresh water for blending. Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend on high for about 3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Transfer to a medium-sized saucepan and cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. It will start to get bubbly and thick. You will start to see some lumps form.
Give it another minute stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan and you will notice that the lumps “disappear” – probably because it’s all one big lump now! But the cashew cheese mixture will be very smooth now and look almost satin-like. Set it aside.
Putting the panini sandwich together:
Slice the tomatoes, pluck the basil leaves, and preheat your panini maker.
If your panini rolls aren’t already sliced, carefully slice and spread the oil on the outside crusty top and bottom of each piece.
Spread a layer of the prepared cashew mozzarella on the side of each roll. Add the tomato slices and basil leaves and put each sandwich together.
Cooking one or two sandwiches at a time (depending on the size of your grill), gently press the lid of the panini maker down. Don’t latch or the fillings will squish out.
Watch carefully to make sure your sandwich doesn’t overcook. My panini maker will cook the sandwich in under five minutes. Your panini sandwich will be lightly golden brown and you will be able to see the panini marks from the grill.
Serve your sandwich with a nice bowl of tomato soup or fresh green salad.
And now for the recipe
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Caprese Panini - Vegan
- high-speed blender
- panini maker
- 2 Tablespoons oil such as avocado or olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian herbs
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
The Panini Sandwich
- 3 Roma tomatoes
- 12 basil leaves
- 3 ciabatta rolls
- Mix the oil with the herbs, garlic and onion powders, sugar and salt, and set aside. It will be quite thick but will soften as it sits.
- Cover raw cashews with very hot water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain the water from the cashews and discard the soaking water.
- Add the soaked cashews and drained cashews to a high-speed blender along with the fresh water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, miso paste, garlic and onion powders, salt, and tapioca flour.
- Blend on high speed for 2-3 minutes or until creamy and smooth.
- Pour contents of the blender into a medium-sized saucepan.
- Heat on medium for about 5-6 minutes stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan. The mixture will first develop lumps and then suddenly will be smooth, thick, and glossy. Set aside.
The Panini Sandwich
- Slice the tomatoes and set aside.
- Pluck the fresh basil leaves from the stems and set aside.
- Slice the panini rolls and set aside.
- Brush the infused oil onto the crusty outside of each piece of roll. Keep in mind this will need to cover all 8 halves.
- Spread a little cashew mozzarella on both sides of each bun.
- Add tomatoes and fresh basil to make and put the tops onto four sandwiches.
- Cooking one or two at a time, put on panini maker and gently press the top down. Don't latch.
- Cook for about 5 minutes or until outside is golden brown and the lines have cooked into the sandwich.