Fun, delicious and easy to prepare, panini, or pressed sandwiches, are a great solution for the “what’s for dinner” dilemma. Here are our top ten tips for perfect panini…
Classic Reuben Panini
1. It's in the bread.
Start with bread that stands on its own: focaccia, ciabatta or a whole grain baguette, for example. Avoid light, airy bread such as sourdough. It doesn’t grill as well and may become flattened and dry.
2. No panini maker? No problem!
Grill your sandwich in a large skillet, then place a heavy, smaller skillet on top of the panini. Press down the top skillet by filling it with a few canned items from your pantry.
Pesto, Mozarella and Tomato Panini
3. Hot, Hot, Hot!
Remember to preheat the pan or panini grill before adding the first sandwich.
4. Light on the fillings.
When the sandwich is ready for grilling, it should be thin enough that the two slices of bread almost touch at the edges.
Fontina Panini with Spinach
5. Avoid the soggies.
When using ingredients that may release a little moisture, like roasted vegetables, place slices of meat or cheese in between the vegetables and bread so the bread stays firm.
6. Perfect crunch!
Brush the bread with olive oil or melted butter before grilling for a just right crispy texture.
7. Be patient (we know...it's so hard!)
In most cases, you’ll get better results from a longer grilling time, so don’t be afraid to let the sandwich cook a little longer.
Herbed Chicken and Cheese Panini
8. Finishing Touch.
Keep lettuce or other raw vegetables crisp by adding them after you grill the sandwich.
9. Clean Cut.
Use a straight-edged, not serrated, knife to cut panini so that you get a clean, even slice.
10. Experiment with ingredients.
Meats, cheeses, roasted and raw vegetables, condiments and spreads—and consider hosting a panini party.
Host a Panini Potluck!
You supply the bread and condiments; your guests supply the rest. What could be simpler?
- Set up your table like a buffet station, complete with an assortment of breads (see tip No. 1 above) and cool condiments such as flavored mayonnaises, different mustards, pesto, tapenade and the like.
- Ask guests to bring their favorite toppings or assign everyone a category, such as deli meats, cooked bacon, cheeses, sliced raw veggies, or roasted vegetables like red bell peppers and caramelized onions.
- To give the room an authentic deli feeling, cover your kitchen counter with butcher or parchment paper. As guests arrive they can put their toppings right on the paper. Use the same set-up to cover the serving table, and include crayons for fun!
- Round out the meal with a fresh fruit platter, chips and brownies—whatever you wish!