Grilled zucchini, goat cheese & pesto panini

…with a balsamic reduction. Sorry, couldn’t leave that part out but the title was getting a bit ridic. I hate when recipe (granted this is a panini and it feels weird to call it a “recipe”) titles pretty much list out every ingredient in them but if I called this a “grilled zucchini panini” would you want to read on? Eh, probably not. Throw the words goat cheese, pesto and balsamic reduction in there though and I go all Pavlov and start salivating upon just reading so I’m hoping you do too and the long title is worth it.

I want to talk about how insanely delicious this combination of tart goat cheese and sun dried tomato basil pesto is with perfect summer squash and tomatoes but really, I just booked flights and hotels to Italy for September and I can’t focus. Can we please just fast forward 9 weeks instead to when my schedule for the next 13 days will look like wine, gelato, pasta, gelato, Italian men, gelato, seeing family who I can’t communicate with and oh, gelato?

I guess this post is kind of appropriate considering it’s pretty “Italian” flavored (and colored!) but as delicious as this sandwich was the other day, I guarantee the basil, tomatoes and zucchini are going to taste 10 thousand times better in Italy. Cannot.wait.

Have you ever reduced balsamic vinegar? If not, you are seriously missing out. I have a love affair with the stuff that dates back to childhood dinners and me drinking the salad bowl to finish all of the vinegar at the bottom. I don’t know how it’s possible for vinegar to be sweet and yet so tart at the same time but somehow balsamic accomplishes that.

Reduce it to a thick, syrupy glaze and it just gets better.

Combine it with creamy goat cheese, roasted vegetables and a fresh made pesto, omg I’ve died and gone to Italy this is my idea of heaven.

As long as there’s gelato there too for dessert.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Grilled Zucchini & Goat Cheese Panini with Pesto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Fresh summer zucchini sandwich with creamy goat cheese and a sweet & tangy balsamic reduction.
Recipe type: panini, lunch
Serves: 2
  • 3 sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup packed basil leaves
  • ½ an avocado
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced diagonally
  • 4 slices wheat bread
  • 4 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
For the pesto
  1. Combine sun dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, avocado, olive oil and salt & pepper in a food processor and pulse until combined.
For the panini
  1. Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high.
  2. Spray with cooking spray and layer zucchini slices on.
  3. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side depending how thick the slices. You want them cooked through with grill marks but still retaining a slight bite to them.
  4. Remove zucchini and set aside.
  5. Spread goat cheese on one piece of bread for each sandwich.
  6. Spread pesto on the other piece of bread for each sandwich.
  7. Layer zucchini and tomatoes on top of one slice of bread and cover with the remaining slice.
  8. Place sandwiches on a heated panini press and cook/press for about 5 minutes until goat cheese starts to melt.
  9. While panini cooks, heat a small sauce pan with balsamic vinegar to medium. Simmer and cook until reduced and vinegar becomes thick and syrup-like. It should just start sticking to a spoon when ready.
  10. Remove panini from press and drizzle balsamic reduction on top or use as a dip in a small side bowl.


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  1. 1

    I’ve got an extra zucchini laying around begging to be used. This is perfect!

  2. 2

    Whatever you want to title it, it looks freakin’ amazing. And anything followed by gelato is A-OK in my book :)

  3. 3

    I definitely salivated.. you had me at goat cheese. This sandwich has all my fave things in it!

  4. 4

    Balsamic reduction + goat cheese is always a killer combination – I’m thinking caramelized onions would be great here, too!

  5. 5

    AHHHH a trip to Italy! SO fun, it’s amazing there.

  6. 6

    Awesome combination of flavours, it just looks like it’s bursting with summer goodness!

  7. 7

    That’s amore right there.

  8. 8

    A) I’m simultaneously THRILLED for you and also trying to figure out how I can finagle myself into your suitcase to go to Italy with you. Because there are no words to describe how jealous I am of all the Italian Men (I mean – Gelato) you’ll be able to oogle (I mean – consume) Crap – this is going down hill fast…
    2) Goat cheese, tomatoes and reduced balsamic vinegar would be my earth, wind and water if that were physically possible. Delicious!

    • 9
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      I wish I could take you with me! Although, doesn’t someone have a super secret honeymoon coming up!? ;)

  9. 10

    I was sold at goat cheese…. absolutely hands down my FAVORITE cheese. Love it combined w/ pesto as well.

  10. 11

    you’re going to italy?! Amazing!! For business or pleasure?

    • 12
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      pleasure! With my mom :) Unfortunately work travel is all domestic. Granted, the west coast isn’t too bad of a place to have to travel to on business ;)

  11. 13

    This looks so so yummy! What a lovely creation

  12. 14

    Ugh! Sometimes I hate naming recipes because I feel like it is a hard balance between being too descriptive and too elusive. I think you did an excellent job with this guy! Looks fantastic! I am sold on anything with goat cheese! Yum!

  13. 15

    Oh. My. Lanta. So exciting. I saw your tweet yesterday and wanted to respond but didn’t for who knows why. I think I was walking and reading….walking and typing on my phone never turns out well. :)
    Italy would be my #1 choice for someplace to go in Europe. How cool that you have relatives there. I probably do too somewhere given that I am formerly a Ruvolo. maybe I should look into that. :) You will be Italy-ing while I am moving to the desert. You win. :) lol.

    • 16
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      And I briefly saw something about that on my phone since I haven’t read blogs in 3 days having been away for work…now I have to go read all about this move of yours!

  14. 17

    I am seeing zucchini everywhere lately! And I want to make each and every recipe I see so far – including this one. Hopefully this week’s CSA loads me up :)

  15. 18

    This looks great and I’m not reading your post at 7am my time like normal so I can get on board with lunch and goat cheese and pesto right about now :)

  16. 19

    I didn’t realize that’s all you had to do to make a Balsamic Reduction! I thought other ingredients were added in order to thicken it. Have you ever tried Aged Balsamic? It sounds similar to a reduction, it’s thick and sweet. SO GOOD!

    • 20
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      I loooove aged balsamic! My brother got me an aged fig balsamic for Christmas and I just about died.

  17. 21

    Would it be totally obscene to buy a panini press just so I could make this sandwich?

    • 22
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      not at all ;) I thought a panini press would be a total waste of space but then I got one as a gift and I actually use it a ton! It more than justified the space it takes up :)

  18. 23

    “Zucchini panini”…I kinda love the ring of that! Either way, this sounds delicious – I love grilled veggies just about any way!

  19. 24

    I’m sneaking in your luggage! Please make sure not to lose me along the way. :)

  20. 25
    Veronica says:

    I made this today and it was absolutely delicious! I am going to eat it again tomorrow it was so good. The only thing I changed was using ricotta cheese in place of the goat cheese since I don’t care for it.

  21. 26

    What’s the bread in this panini? It looks amazing, and perfect for it.

    • 27
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      I’m honestly trying to remember what I put it on in this picture since it was months ago…I think it was just regular wheat bread!

      • 28

        It must be the pretty picture with the balsamic reduction that makes it look so good. I thought maybe there were some extra grains and some reddish tomatoey content to it. I might not be able to wait until these ingredients are seasonal again to try one of these.


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