Tuesday, August 25, 2009

panini fever!

Caprese panino: ciabatta bread, vegan mozzarella, fresh basil and heirloom tomatoes

For years, I've lusted after many a high-end panini press. But being as frugal and space-conscious as I am, I could not bring myself to fork out $100 for something so large and seemingly frivolous. In the end, my patience and tightwad nature paid off. Last month, I saw a decent press that was petite enough to store in my city kitchen, advertised on sale for $20 at Macy's. I pounced.


Pressing: the fun part

Now I make panini at least once a week. It's easy and addictive. You can press any kind of bread: French bread, sandwich bread, and even tortillas. But after experimenting, I've determined that ciabatta bread, slathered in Earth Balance, or best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, works best and makes for the most authentic, Italian style panini. "Ciabatta" means "slipper" in Italian, and once you bite into this soft, flat bread, you'll see why. Pressing it makes it just slightly crispy.



There's something elegant about slicing the panini on the diagonal


The fun thing about panini-making is that improvisation is de rigueur. You can literally throw together a sandwich from anything and everything. Here, I married Tuscan white bean spread, fresh sage and artichoke hearts.



A meal within a sandwich

If you're feeling ambitious, you can saute some mushrooms or greens [spinach, broccoli rabe or kale] and add a slice or two of vegan cheese. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination and the contents of your pantry.

22 comments:

bazu said...

I love this post!! We went through a bit of panini fever this summer when I discovered that the George Foreman grill my mom gave me makes a fine sandwich press! I loved brushing the outside of the bread with some olive oil and dill before pressing... now I'm going to have to try your ideas- yum.

VeggieGirl said...

MMM, MMM, classic sandwich!!

Carrie™ said...

I love a hot sandwich that I can eat with my hands. And ciabatta bread? Slipper heaven!
Like you, I have limited space in my ridiculous kitchen. I have a small George Foreman grill & Bazu says that works. Hmmmm.....maybe I can do paninis after all. Now if I could just mirror your frugality...

dragonfly pie said...

I love pressed sandwiches...perfectly warm and crunchy. That last one on the bottom with the greens looks really tempting, I'd love a panini sandwich with some garlicky broccoli rabe.

Jennyjen said...

Viva!! This looks absolutely scrumptious. I love the crunch of the bread as you bite into the sandwich. Mmmmm!

Tasha said...

I love my panini's!!

I have something on my blog for you!

buffalodick said...

Looks great- what a deal on the panini grill! I have a Cuisinart Griddler that does that, and cost about $130 bucks! With two sets of grill plates( one smooth, and one ribbed like yours), and adjustable heats- this stainless steel unit is a well thought out piece of equipment! I'd use it more, but as you know, I'm the kitchen gizmo King- who still just likes a sharp knife, and pots'n pans the most!

buffalodick said...

How's your injury healing? Hope you're back to lightspeed, dear!

Kay said...

Those sammiches look stellar! I love my George Foreman, it does all the work of a press. Now I really want a pannini... thanks for the lunch idea. :)

S. Shoemaker said...

Your sandwiches look fabulous! What a deal you got on the press for only $20!

mandi said...

oooo I love Paninis <3 What type of vegan cheese do you use? I have yet to find a brand that I really like.

Random thought: I passed by the impaled tree on 7th that you posted about recently. There are actually a few of them. So cool to see it in person!

cw said...

wow! i never thought to use my george foreman grill to make a panini - i know what i am having for dinner tonight! :)

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tomas said...

It's perfect for those who love to panini fever food, just like me.

Giulia said...

Yum!! :-)

mamapasta said...

one a week ! you had tu buy one lond time before!....enjoy yourself with your new cook toy!

Bill Medifast said...

I've always been a huge fan of the panini and I must say, I am on the panini fever bandwagon!! Thanks for sharing this :)

TavoLini said...

Yum! It's picnic time with these sandwiches :)

Amey said...

oh my GOD! You and me both! I wish I had a panino press. After living in Italy, and enjoying countless pressed panini, every time I see these contraptions, I am overcome with desire. It seems you are putting your find to great use! Now I will invite myself over for dinner!

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

I thought I had every kitchen gadget, but I just realized I don't have a panini press! For shame!

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