Summer arrived remarkably early in the Pacific Northwest, and I’ve been giddily embracing it. Summer is my homeboy. I’ve been loving it so much, in fact, that I had a nightmare last night that suddenly it was mid-November and I looked around, confused – where had summer gone? I cried. Like, actually cried. Well, at least, in my dream I did. Probably into my pillow, too. Luckily, in my dream I remembered that it was still actually July, and I managed to return to summer. Sweet relief.
Good thing, because I’ve got veggies and herbs in the garden, on their way to becoming future summer dinners like this one. I refuse to skip August, so take that, dream world!
To make them, you first give the veggies a quick soak in a balsamic-thyme marinade. While they marinate, you whip up the pesto. This one is made with basil and toasted walnuts – delicious. Grill the veggies, then slather the insides of crusty toasted rolls with the fresh pesto. Layer the veggies inside, and you’re good to go.
One Dish Two Ways notes
Sandwiches are great for customizing to individual tastes and diets because of their handy-dandy individual serving size. My carnivorous guy tried these with a grilled chicken sausage sliced lengthwise and tucked inside but actually decided he preferred it without because it was so flavorful already. Perhaps some grilled sliced chicken breast would work nicely. Cheese lovers might dig these with a melty slice of provolone or a smear of herbed goat cheese. Me, I like ’em just as they are, Bridget Jones style.
Grilled Summer Vegetable Sandwiches with Pesto
- 2-3 small to medium zucchini (1 pound)
- 2-3 small to medium summer squash or yellow squash (1 pound)
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 4 ciabatta sandwich rolls (or your favorite artisan sandwich roll)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 medium cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Zest from one lemon (about 2 teaspoons (you'll use the juice in the pesto))
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + more to taste
Basil & Toasted Walnut Pesto:
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
- 2 medium cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes or grated Parmesan (optional*)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Slice the zucchini and summer squash lengthwise, 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Cut the bell pepper into 1-inch wide strips. Lay in a roomy baking dish.
- Make the marinade. In a small bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Pour over the veggies and toss gently. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the pesto. First, toast the walnuts (an optional but worthwhile step - toasting adds wonderful flavor). To toast, set a small pan over medium heat and add the walnuts. Stir frequently until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add to the pitcher of a blender or a food processor fitted with the s-blade. Add the basil, garlic, thyme, lemon juice, nutritional yeast or Parmesan if using, and salt. Turn on the blender or food processor, streaming in the olive oil as it runs, until a sauce forms. Taste pesto and add additional salt if desired.
- Prepare your grill - medium direct heat, about 375 degrees. Lay the vegetables on the preheated grill grates and cook until grill lines form, about 5 minutes. Flip (we like to use long-handled tongs) and cook on the other side until tender and cooked through, about 5 more minutes. Transfer from the grill to a platter. Keep the grill on to quickly toast the rolls.
- Slice the rolls in half and brush the insides with the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Lay the rolls cut-side down on the grill and cook just until warmed and a little golden and toasty. Remove from grill.
- Assemble the sandwiches. Smear both sides of the roll with approx. 1 tablespoon of pesto on each side (more or less to taste). Add a layer of zucchini, summer squash, and two or three strips of the pepper. Close, cut in half, and serve!
- If you prefer Parmesan in your pesto, add 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup shredded, to taste.
- Add a slice of provolone to your sandwich or smear the roll with a little herbed goat cheese.
- Add a layer of grilled chicken or a few slices of your favorite sausage.