Learn how to make a panini sandwich, and you will probably never want to eat an ordinary sandwich again. There’s just something about the crunchiness of the bread combined with oozing melted cheese and grilled veggies piled on top of a warm bed of thin-cut meats that just can’t be beat.
Paninis are the perfect answer to a satisfying lunch or a quick mid-week dinner – and with no end to possible combos!
Panini Sandwich Makers
Cast Iron Panini Press
A properly homemade panini traditionally required both a cast iron grill pan and panini press in order to properly allow heat transfer to all panini ingredients (to melt cheese for example). This method enables both top and bottom of the sandwich to acquire those appealing grill marks simultaneously. You would first need to heat your grill pan over medium-high heat and butter one side of each bread slice. Once your pan is hot, add your first slice of bread, buttered side down.
Then pile up your other ingredients (lettuce, tomato, onion, cold cuts, sliced cheese) and season with salt and pepper if you wish. Top with remaining slice of bread, buttered side up. Use your grill press to press down on your sandwiches.
Even contact with the hot grill pan below will create lovely grill marks and help heat the interior of the sandwich more thoroughly. When the bread on the bottom is golden brown, carefully flip each sandwich and repeat until the other slice of bread is also evenly browned.
But let’s face it, a good quality cast iron pan together with a grill press are not cheap – not to mention the hot handle holders you will need to protect your fingers. And even then, a moment of distraction is enough to end up with really bad burns…
Electric Panini Press Grill
Enter the panini press which greatly simplifies the process for a similar amount of money, depending on the model you choose of course.
Think of it as an electric sandwich griller which produces enough heat to warm up your panini fillings while toasting the top and bottom of your panini bread. And just like your everyday toaster, not butter or fat is needed to create that crunch.
What’s a Panini Exactly?
A panini is simply a small grilled sandwich usually made with Italian bread and filled with cheese, meats and/or veggies – sort of a plumped up grilled cheese.
But what bread to use for a panini sandwich? Whether you choose a roll or some focaccia or ciabatta sliced horizontally, it is important that the dough be dense in order for it to grill properly and support the stacked ingredients.
Slices of French baguette can also be used to make open-faced panini sandwiches in some panini presses with adjustable height control.
Some Panini Ideas
You may want to start with a simple grilled cheese panini with one or two cheeses like provolone, mozzarella (smoked or not), parmesan, fontina, gruyere, asiago, cheddar, taleggio or brie.
As you get more ambitious, try adding some salami, ham, pepperoni, prosciutto, chicken, turkey, roast beef or even bacon.
Vegetables make a wonderful filling, increasing nutrition while keeping the sandwich light – think tomato slices, avocado, and maybe some grilled veggies such as eggplant, zucchini, onion, red peppers or mushrooms.
And for the finishing touch, add a complementary condiment like pesto or tapenade, a few basil leaves, some baby spinach – or even think outside the box and go for sliced apples or pears!
For example, a yummy grilled chicken panini sandwich could include mozzarella, grilled zucchini, tomato, bacon and pesto. Let your imagination run wild, or get inspired from our sandwich press recipes. Have fun!Share This!