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Vegetarian sandwiches full of flavor

NEW YORK (AP) -- Chef Michael Lomonaco of Windows on the World, the restaurant complex at the top of the World Trade Center, created this recipe for a hearty meatless sandwich of cheese and savory, herb-flavored grilled vegetables.

Panini is Italian for "small breads," often used for chunky sandwiches, although this recipe calls for a long loaf of French bread. Cosmopolitan they may be, but the panini are quick to make on the grill. Allow about 20 minutes.

GRILLED VEGETABLES AND MOZZARELLA PANINI

1 sweet red pepper, halved, seeds removed, each half cut into thirds

1 medium zucchini (about 6 ounces), cut into long slices about 1/4-inch thick

1 Asian eggplant (about 6 ounces) cut into long strips, about 1/4-inch thick (see note)

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 thin ficelle or French baguette, about 22 inches long

3 cups (12 ounces) fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into thin, even slices (see note)

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves or 1 teaspoon dried basil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs to garnish, optional

Sea salt to taste

Brush the vegetables lightly with some of the oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill over medium-high heat (or under broiler), 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and cool for several minutes. Meanwhile, halve the bread lengthwise and brush the inside lightly with oil. Grill the inside of the bread quickly, about 1 minute and remove.

Assemble the sandwich by alternating layers of vegetables, cheese and basil on the still warm bottom half of the bread, then sprinkle on any remaining oil and a few drops of vinegar. Sprinkle on any other herbs desired and a little sea salt. Press top on tightly and slice into 5-inch lengths. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Asian eggplants are long, slender and light purple in color. If unavailable, substitute small, baby eggplant. Use regular mozzarella if fresh is not available. Recipe from: American Dairy Association.