Pesto Berry Drizzled Panini with Home Style Fries

I have Janik to thank for introducing me to the panini-style sandwich and by association, one of my most treasured kitchen appliances — the panini press. In fact, Janik made panini sandwiches for dinner on our first date, and we still use the same press to this date.

The panini remains a favourite go-to meal in our household, so this is one of the “top 10” recipes I challenged myself to “veganize” once our journey toward a plant-based diet began. When experimenting with store-bought pesto and Daiya® cheese my recipe reached the threshold of “acceptable”, but I only post on Vegan Rhapsody if a recipe delivers that “wow” factor.  Since discovering Follow Your Heart® cheese products during our recent family trip to Seattle — not only the taste but how it melts similar to dairy-based cheese — my panini recipe elevated to Vegan Rhapsody-worthy.

By pairing pesto with a fresh, bold-flavoured berry drizzle this sandwich offers the perfect balance of savoury and sweet. When accompanied by a side of our Homestyle Fries, you have an irresistible meal that I’m pretty certain will have your non-vegan dinner guests asking for the recipe.

If I’ve teased your palette for Italian fare check out our Vegan Tofu Parmigiana or our Tomato Pesto Sauce.



In-a-Flash Pesto 

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt (or sea salt)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or similar (e.g. grapeseed, avocado, canola oil)

Berry Drizzle 

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup whole blackberries or other berry of choice (e.g. raspberries, mixed berries)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil or similar (e.g. avocado, canola oil)

Toppings (Customize amounts to suit your taste)

  • Panini bun/Baguette/Ciabatta, halved
  • Olive oil or similar (e.g. grapeseed, avocado, canola oil)
  • Tomato, thinly sliced (ripened and vine-tomatoes will yield the most flavour)
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 slice Follow Your Heart® Vegan Provolone Cheese or similar
  • Vegan mozzarella shreds or similar


Prep It
Prepare In-A-Flash Pesto
1/Combine garlic cloves, fresh basil, salt and olive oil in  a food processor or blender.  Process until the mixture is well blended but still has some texture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Prepare Berry Drizzle
1/Add minced garlic and blackberries to a food processor or blender. Process until well combined.
2/Add vinegar and oil to the garlic-blackberry mixture. Process until mixture is smooth.

Grill It 
1/Line up all  the “bottom” buns (facing up); line up all the corresponding “top” buns (facing up). Spread pesto on each “bottom”; drizzle olive oil on each “top”. Add a pinch of salt to each “top” and “bottom”.
2/On each “bottom” layer sliced tomato and fresh basil. Drizzle the prepared Berry Drizzle over the basil. Top with dairy-free cheese of choice (or blend of cheeses). Your filling is now complete.
3/Pair up the “top” and “bottoms” making sure to keep the filling inside (tuck as you go!) Place in preheated panini press. Drizzle olive oil over each “top”. Grill for 10-15 minutes or until the filling oozes outside of the bread.

Serve It
Cut each panini in half to display the gorgeous layers of colour (and textures)! Serve with a side of roasted potatoes and/or salad.

Recipe Notes

*When making the Berry Drizzle use fresh or frozen berries (thawed to room temperature)


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