In Italian, the word "panini" literally means "small breads," a plural noun referring to the country's sandwiches as a whole: thick breads, grilled or not, stuffed with any number and combination of ingredients. The late 20th century brought the panini trend to the United States. As American culture has adopted it, a panini -- used as a singular noun -- sandwiches melted cheese between slices of pressed, crispy bread. As Italian panini press salesman Domenic Seminara described a panini, "It's a sandwich with romance, just like cappuccino is coffee with romance."
Slice bread for your panini. Use dense bread such as ciabatta, sourdough or rye. Cut slices to be 1/2 inch thick. Spread a small amount of butter on one side of each slice, if desired.
Assemble a sandwich using fillings of your choosing. Face buttered side of bread outward. Incorporate cheeses for a customary Americanized panini. Use assorted vegetables as fillings. Make an entire sandwich of leftovers. Do not overfill.
Heat both skillets on separate burners on medium heat until hot. Spray inside of large skillet with cooking spray. Place sandwich inside large skillet.
Spray a layer of cooking spray on the bottom of the second, smaller skillet. Lower small skillet on top of sandwich inside larger skillet.
Place heat-safe weighted object, such as a teapot filled with water, on top of smaller skillet. Cook for approximately four minutes on medium heat.
Remove weight and upper skillet to make sure panini has turned golden brown and cheese has mostly melted. Replace top skillet and weight to cook several minutes longer if necessary.
Remove sandwich from heat and enjoy!
Use ridged skillets to create appetizing lines on bread while cooking. Reheat a cooked panini in an oven. Do not microwave; your panini may end up soggy or rubbery.
Tips and warnings
- Use ridged skillets to create appetizing lines on bread while cooking.
- Reheat a cooked panini in an oven. Do not microwave; your panini may end up soggy or rubbery.
- Panini Happy; How to Make Panini; April 2008
- The Kitchn; How to Make a Pressed Sandwich - Without a Sandwich Press!; Kathryn Hill; April 2010
- Panini Happy; How to Make Panini without a Panini Press; February 2009
- Fox News; Panini Sandwiches Get Hot in the U.S.; Jennifer D'Angelo; October 2002
- Dining Chicago; Eat This! Panini, Italy's Answer to Grilled Cheese; Leah A. Zeldes; October 2009