When I come home from work on some summer nights the last thing I want to do is cook. I’m sure most of you will side with me on this one. As we walk through the door and kick off our shoes, we need something fast and satisfying. For me, panini seem to be the perfect choice – all you have to do is buy some rolls, fresh prosciutto and a few cheese slices. If you’ve got other favs, just pile them on. And, whatever you do, avoid that bread topper. With my open-faced panini, you’ll avoid the extra calories (it’s almost swimsuit season, remember?). “Mangia” and don’t feel guilty.

Prep time: 10 to 12 minutes
Serves: 2 to 4

2 small zucchini, tips removed & discarded (this ingredient is optional)
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 panini rolls, cut in half horizontally
12 slices Prosciutto di Parma or San Daniele Prosciutto (sliced thick enough to roll, as opposed to shaved)
8 slices Provolone cheese (mild or sharp)
2 roasted red or yellow bell peppers (ready made and sold in a jar), rinsed, pat dry and cut into ½-inch thick slices
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cut zucchini, lengthwise, into ¼-inch thick slices; set aside. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. With a basting brush dipped in olive oil, lightly grease the foil-lined sheet.

3. Arrange zucchini slices, side by side, on the sheet. Lightly drizzle each slice with olive oil.

4. Place sheet with zucchini on oven rack placed 6 inches away from oven’s overhead broiler grill.

5. Grill zucchini about 5 minutes per side, until the slices are golden brown. Remove sheet from oven and set aside.

6. Meanwhile, arrange the 4 panini half-rolls, cut side up, on a serving platter and lightly drizzle them with olive oil. Roll each prosciutto slice.

7. Place 3 slices on each panini half-roll, followed by 2 slices of cheese, 1 or 2 zucchini slices and a few bell pepper slices.

8. Drizzle a little oil, salt and pepper, to taste, on the bell pepper slices.

Serve immediately with your favorite red or white wine.

Wine pairing suggestion: Chianti (red) or Pinot Grigio (white).

Text and Photograph ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real