Panini Sandwiches originated as bar snack food in Milan Italy. The original Panini were made with just enough tasty ingredients to flavor the bread, just like how Focaccia is topped with only a few toppings when served as a bar favor.
Things have changed as far as modern Panini are concerned. Modern Panini are no longer just two pieces of grilled bread that has a few thin slices of meat, cheese or vegetables added for flavor. The portion size of the featured ingredient and garnish on a typical Panini has increased to the point of this sandwich being a meal, rather than just a snack. This satisfies those who go out to eat and drink, rather than drink and snack. Needless to say, because of the increased cost, modern Panini are no longer complimentary bar snacks.
A Panini sandwich is pressed between two hot griddles, so the sandwich warms evenly. Just like with a Cuban Sandwich, the pressure applied when grilling causes the bread to gain a crispy golden brown crust. A Panini can be pressed on a flat double griddle or a double griddle that has a ribbed surface. A ribbed griddle produces dark grill marks on the bread, while a flat griddle surface creates a golden color. Either way, it is the crispy crust that counts.
The difference between a Panini and a Cuban Sandwich is the bread and the amount of pressure applied. A Cuban Sandwich is pressed very flat, while a Panini is just gently pressed. A Cuban Sandwich is made with soft Cuban Bread that has a thin crust. A traditional Panini is made only with Ciabatta Bread, which has an airy chewy texture. Another difference is that a Cuban Sandwich is served whole or cut in half, while Panini are always cut into triangle shapes.
Balsamic Sun Dried Tomato Pesto:
This recipe yields about 1/2 cup. (Enough for 2 sandwiches.)
Step 1: Place 8 sun dried tomato halves in a small sauce pot.
Add 2 cups of water.
Place the pot over low heat.
Gently simmer till the sun dried tomatoes become soft.
Step 2: Remove the pot from the heat.
Remove the sun dried tomatoes from the hot water.
Coarsely chop the sun dried tomatoes.
Step 3: Place the sun dried tomatoes in a food processor.
Add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.
Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
Add 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
Add 1 tablespoon of Modena Balsamic Vinegar.
Add 1 pinch of basil.
Add 1 pinch of oregano.
Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Step 4: Pulse the food processor for a few seconds at time till the mixture becomes a smooth spreadable paste.
Step 5: *Check the consistency. Add a little bit of virgin olive oil if the paste is too thick. The paste should be thick enough to be gathered with a spoon, yet soft enough to easily spread.
Step 6: Place the Balsamic Sun Dried Tomato Pesto in a container.
Chill for 30 minutes, so the flavors meld.
This recipe yields about 1/2 cup. (Enough for 1 large sandwich.)
Step 1: Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
Sauté till the garlic is a light golden color.
Step 2: Add 2 1/2 cups of baby arugula leaves. (Gently packed.)
Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
Sauté and toss till the arugula wilts.
Step 3: Remove the pan from the heat.
Place the wilted garlic arugula in a container and set it aside.
Tacchino Panini with Balsamic Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, Garlic Arugula and Provolone:
This recipe yields 1 large Panini Sandwich.
Step 1: Cut an 8" long piece of Ciabatta Bread.
Split the bread in half horizontally.
Step 2: Spread 3 or 4 tablespoons of the Balsamic Sun Dried Tomato Pesto on both halves of the Ciabatta.
Place a thin layer of the Garlic Arugula on the bottom half of the sandwich.
Place 5 ounces of thin sliced roast turkey on the garlic arugula. (Roast turkey from a delicatessen is fine for this recipe.)
Place a few thin slices of provolone cheese on the turkey. (About 1 1/2 to 2 ounces.)
Place the top half of the Ciabatta Bread on the sandwich.
Step 3: Set a Panini Griddle to a medium heat range. (Either a flat double griddle surface or a ribbed double griddle surface can be used.)
Place the sandwich on the Panini Griddle.
Lower the top griddle plate and gently press the sandwich. (Do not squash the sandwich flat!)
Grill till the Ciabatta has a golden crust or till golden brown grill marks appear.
Step 4: Place the Panini on a cutting board.
Cut the sandwich into 2 or 3 triangle shapes.
Place the Panini Triangles on a plate.
Garnish the pate with an Italian parsley sprig, black olives and a pickle of your choice.
This is a great tasting Panini Sandwich. The peppery flavor of Garlic Arugula and Balsamic Sun Dried Tomato Pesto taste great with roast turkey!