The Italian panini is considered by many to be the ultimate in comfort food. Essentially an Italian version of the American grilled cheese sandwich, the panini is often far more, usually consisting of a variety of different fillings from fresh tomato and mozzarella to avocado and sliced turkey. The best way to prepare a high quality panini is to use a panini press. Cooking with a panini press is fun, easy and extremely rewarding, often producing restaurant-quality food.
Preheat your panini press according to the unit's instructions. Preheating a panini press usually takes approximately five to 10 minutes, depending heavily upon the quality of the unit.
Construct your panini. There are a variety of different ways to fill a panini, most of which rely on a matter of preference. Those looking for a light lunch may wish to use fillings such as fresh mozzarella, zucchini and tomato, while a more robust, heavy panini might consist of Italian cold cuts or even roast beef and gravy. Traditionally, panini do not have an overabundance of filling, as overfilling the sandwich can affect the cooking process.
Brush each side of the panini with olive oil. This will aid in the cooking process and prevent the bread from sticking. Skipping this step is not advised.
Place the sandwich on the panini press and lower the lid so that both sides of the sandwich make contact with the cooking surface. Cook sandwich for approximately five to eight minutes, turning once during the cooking process. The panini is finished when there are noticeable grill marks on its exterior.
Always use cheese in a panini, as it will bind the two pieces of bread together. Strive to cook with only the highest quality ingredients.
Never leave a panini press unattended when in use, as fire can occur. Always unplug your panini press after you are finished using it.