A panini is a pressed and toasted sandwich, served hot. They are usually made with a panini press, a two-sided grill that you close on top of the sandwich, kind of like a waffle maker. However, you don’t need this special appliance to make a panini. A panini press uses the weight of the lid to press on the sandwich as it toasts, but you can easily create the same end result by placing a heavy cast iron pan or other weight on top of your sandwich as it toasts.
First, gather fillings: chicken, prosciutto or other meat, grilled veggies, basil or other herbs, cheeses, whatever you like. In my panini, I used chicken, Trader Joe’s Genova pesto sauce, sun dried tomato, and shredded mozzarella cheese. When I think of a classic panini, I think of some variation of these Mediterranean ingredients.
Once you’ve assembled the sandwich with the fillings distributed inside, place it on a hot olive-oil-coated pan. Then place a heavy cast iron pan on top. Don’t have a cast iron pan? Grab a pie tin and place it on top, weighing it down with a few cans from your pantry. Out of cans? Go outside, grab a brick, wrap it in foil, and place it on top of your sandwich.
After a few minutes, your sandwich will be golden and toasted on one side. Flip it and repeat the process for the other side. Enjoy your panini!
- 12 slices of regular or gluten-free bread, or 6 Trader Joe’s par-baked Panini Rustic Rolls
- 1 (16-oz) container Just Chicken (pre-cooked chicken) or leftover chicken
- 1/2 cup refrigerated Genova Pesto
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup Julienne Sliced Sun Dried Tomatoes plus 2 Tbsp oil from the jar
- Mix together chicken and pesto, stirring until the chicken is evenly coated. Stir in cheese and sun dried tomatoes. Drizzle on oil and stir well.
- If using panini rolls, cut each roll open. Distribute the filling between bread slices or rolls.
- If not using a panini press, use a cast-iron pan. Lightly spray or oil the pan and place over medium heat. Toast the sandwiches 3 at a time. Press them with a second cast-iron pan placed on the sandwiches (or use something heavy like a pie pan weighed down with canned goods, or foil wrapped bricks) and toast for 2-3 minutes until golden and crisp. Flip and toast the other side. Repeat with the next 3 sandwiches.