Meaning “small bread” in Italian, a panino -- or panini -- is a simple sandwich that gets a boost of flavor from grilling before serving. Layering the panino with prosciutto, mozzarella and fresh Roma tomatoes keeps the flavors Italian, as does brushing the exterior of the bread with olive oil mixed with dried herbs. A brief cook in a panini press is all that is required to melt the cheese and give the panino the signature crispness the Italian sandwich is known for.
Start to Finish: 20 minutes
Difficulty Level: Beginner
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- 2 slices of Italian sourdough bread, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
- 2 slices of mozzarella cheese
- 4 to 5 slices of prosciutto
- 1 Roma tomato, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Pinch of dried basil
- Pinch of dried oregano
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of pepper
Step 1: Preheat Panini Press
Preheat the appliance to a medium-high heat.
Step 2: Whisk Herbs into Olive Oil
Whisk the olive oil, basil, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl until combined.
Step 3: Brush the Bread with Olive Oil
Brush the olive oil mixture evenly onto one side of the bread, then place the oiled side face down.
Step 4: Build the Panino
Add a piece of cheese to the slice of bread, followed by the prosciutto. Add a few slices of tomato and place the remaining slice of cheese on top.
Step 5: Top the Panino
Brush one side of the remaining slice of bread with the olive oil mixture. Place it on top of the cheese, oil-side up.
Step 6: Cook the Panino
Transfer the panino to the panini maker and close the lid. Let it cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the outside of the panino is crispy, with distinct grill marks.
Step 7: Serve the Panino
Remove the panino from the panini maker and let it cool for 1 minute. Slice in half and serve.
Substitutions and Variations
If you don’t have mozzarella on hand, substitute it with provolone or queso oaxaco. Or, if you’d prefer to use a cheese with a bolder flavor, try using tangy goat cheese or buttery Camembert.
If you don't own a panini press, use a pan on the stove top instead. If you have a grill pan, use it to replicate the signature grill marks of a panini press. A regular pan will also achieve crisp results. Pan-cook the panino for approximately 4 minutes on each side, using something to press the sandwich down, such as a heavy bowl, while it cooks.
Make the panino your own by using ingredients you love. Try incorporating roasted red bell pepper, spinach, fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced onion, olive tapenade, pesto or grilled chicken breast, or add a subtle sweetness with thinly sliced apples or pears.