A panini is a great addition to every menu. What is a panini? If you like crunchy crust, melted cheese and want it quickly and portable, a panini could fit that order. the first time I discovered a panini was at a rest stop in Italy. My sister, brother and I were on a pajama tour of Europe, 9 countries in 12 days. (i know, such craziness!) The tour bus stopped at the fanciest rest stop. No vending machines w mediocre snacks and bad coffee here. The Italians have it right, traveling is hard enough let’s have cafe style food and hot coffee at rest stops. Travel is part of the journey so let’s enjoy it. The panini we had there was ham & cheese. You could easy replicate this at home. A panini is also a great way to use up any left over hamburger buns, hotdog buns, ciabatta rolls, ect. A panini can make fridge leftovers look like they got an upgrade. Go ahead and be creative. They also freeze well. Squish them but don’t brown them very much, then when you want to use them let them defrost in the fridge and toast them in our toaster oven or fry pan til they are golden brown. That should be enough heat to remelt the cheese and soften the bread too.
Hardware- cutting board, butter knife, plate, panini press or if you don’t have one, no worries, you can use a frying pan/cast iron skillet and flatest plate you have or a crockpot (just for the weight of the stone), aluminum foil, chef knife, pancake flipper
Software- your favorite melting cheese, your favorite sandwich deli meat, soft spreadable butter or a spritzer bottle of “I can’t believe it’s not butter”, Bonus Flavor Burst- pesto or sundried tomato spread or olive tapenade or garlic artichoke spread. (pick one so as not to muddle the flavors)
spread your bread with the Bonus Flavor Burst of your choice.
Add the meat on top of that, then the cheese
top your sandwich with bread.
If you have a panini press, then follow the manufacturer’s directions. If you don’t, then do what I do…
Turn your stove to med low heat. Place your fry pan/cast iron skillet on the heat.
if your using a softened butter, you can plop a small piece on the fry pan.
once the butter has melted, carefully lay your sandwich on the butter, top it with the foil piece and place the crock on top. The weight of the crock will compress your sandwich. Be careful to watch since you might have to keep a hand on top so that the crock doesn’t slide off.
Once you feel that it isn’t compressing any more, using a pancake flipper, turn the sandwich over and cover it with foil and place the crock on top again to finish the compressing process.
Once you feel that the sanwich is golden brown on both sides of the bread, place it on the cutting board and cut it in half on an angle.
Next comes the hard part, waiting for it to cool down. Many of mouths have been burnt by the hot melted cheese in a panini. Have some grapes, pear, or apple slices and you have the best roadtrip pitstop sandwich ever.
My favorites are…
turkey, provalone, pesto/leftover meatloaf, motzerella, sundried tomato spread/canadian bacon, pepperjack cheese/ leftover rotisserie chicken, garlic artichoke spread and brie
ps. feel free to post some of your favorite combos. I’d love to hear them.