A panino is the Italian upgrade of an American grilled cheese sandwich. It is usually called "panini" in the United States, the plural of "panino." This hearty sandwich is commonly made with rustic bread, vegetables, cheese and sauce. Panini sandwiches are a great comfort food that is warm, toasty and delicious. Making paninis is a fun and creative activity, because you can make them in any interesting way you think of. Use a panini press to get the great results you crave.
Things You'll Need
- Rustic bread
- Meat or fish
Invest in either an electric panini press or portable panini pan with press; this is essential to making an authentic panini. An electric panini press makes the process easy by allowing you to simply set the sandwich in the press and cover it until the timer, bell or light notifies you the panini is done cooking.
A portable panini pan with a press saves you in electricity and counter space, as it can be stored with your other pans. You might get a press with the raised grill edges so you don't have to flip the sandwich and both sides of the sandwich get the grill marks. A panini press with the raised grill edges on the pan but not under the press is common. For this type, you turn the sandwich over with tongs or a flat spatula and press the sandwich again on the other side.
Select bakery-quality bread such as ciabatta, sour dough or any rustic bread. Slice the bread in thick pieces. Choose three to four ingredients for your panini sandwich so that you will be able to enjoy each of the flavors without getting overwhelmed by too many ingredients.
Put in tasty Ingredients such as turkey, chicken, pork or even salmon. Add vegetables such as grilled onions, red bell peppers or zucchini. If you'd prefer a vegetarian style panini, mozzarella, tomato and basil is a tasty choice.
To bind the sandwich together, put cheese on the bread before you add anything else. When the cheese melts, it keeps the rest of the panini parts together. Use cheeses that melt well, such as provolone, fontina, Gouda and especially Gruyere. Get creative and add olive tapenade, barbecue sauce, honey or mayonnaise infused with flavors such as garlic, chipotle and wasabi.
Don't overstuff your panini or else the insides won't cook fast enough to keep up with the outside. Overfilling can also create a big mess as the inside ingredients escape from the sandwich and overflow into the pan.
Preheat your panini press or pan over medium heat or according to the instructions on the electric press. The electric press should notify you by a light or bell when it is preheated. A nonelectric panini press pan lets you know if it's preheated if you flick small drops of water onto the pan. When you get a sizzle reaction, the press is ready.
After you put your sandwich together, brush or spray each side of it with butter, canola or olive oil. Put the sandwich on the press and cover it with the grill press. Each side of the panini should cook for three or four minutes, or up to five minutes, at least until it turns a golden brown color. Turn the sandwich over and press so that both sides get those appealing brown grill marks.
Tips & Warnings
- Never step away from your panini press while you are cooking your panini, as it may overcook and burn your panini and the press and can cause a fire.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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