This grilled zucchini goat cheese pesto panini is drizzled with a balsamic reduction. It’s got all the flavors of Italy in a quick lunch.

…with a balsamic reduction.

Sorry, couldn’t leave that part out but the title was getting a bit ridiculous. 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.

Grilled zucchini goat cheese and pesto panini
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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.


Grilled zucchini goat cheese panini

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.

Grilled zucchini pesto panini

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

Looking for a pesto recipe to try in this panini? Any will do but I particularly love this ramp pesto, radish greens pesto or zucchini pesto.

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Grilled Zucchini Goat Cheese Panini with Pesto

Servings: 2 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
This grilled zucchini goat cheese pesto panini is drizzled with a balsamic reduction. It’s got all the flavors of Italy in a quick lunch.


  • 3 sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 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

  • Combine sun dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, avocado, olive oil and salt & pepper in a food processor and pulse until combined.

For the Panini

  • Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high.
  • Spray with cooking spray and layer zucchini slices on.
  • 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.
  • Remove zucchini and set aside.
  • Spread goat cheese on one piece of bread for each sandwich.
  • Spread pesto on the other piece of bread for each sandwich.
  • Layer zucchini and tomatoes on top of one slice of bread and cover with the remaining slice.
  • Place sandwiches on a heated panini press and cook/press for about 5 minutes until goat cheese starts to melt.
  • 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.
  • Remove panini from press and drizzle balsamic reduction on top or use as a dip in a small side bowl.


Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 412kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 14gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 587mgFiber: 7gSugar: 10g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American


Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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    1. 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!

      1. 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.