Perfect Picnic Panini
Hi again! Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe during this crazy time right now. Did you like my alliteration in my title? I love making paninis and I didn’t want to label this one by ingredients because you can change it up with so many different ingredients to go with your tastes. The one I’m going to introduce you today is my all time favorite. I have been making this one for years and always get rave reviews from my tasters 🙂
The base for this panini is a nice ciabatta loaf. I like using a flatter bread so I can fill it up with all my insides without it being too think for my panini press. You will start by slicing it lengthwise through the middle of the loaf so you have two flat, even pieces. Sometimes the bakery will even do this for you before you take it home.
My next ingredient is pesto. I love to make homemade pesto, which someday I will have to share that recipe as well, but for this, a good quality store-bought pesto will work just fine. Spread a nice thin layer on each inner slice of the loaf of bread. Since most pestos already have cheese in them, I don’t normally add any to my paninis, but feel free to add some slices of a yummy provolone or other italian cheese at this point as well.
The next ingredient I like to add is some thinly sliced proscuitto. I put just a nice thin layer on top of the pesto. This can be found in the deli section of your grocery store.
After the proscuitto comes the roasted red peppers. Many people do not realize just how easy these are to make! You just cut the center out of your pepper and slice into quarters. Lay the peppers on a cooking sheet, inside facing down, and place under the broiler until the skin on them is starting to get black. Then, place them in a bowl and cover bowl tightly with some foil or cling wrap. This allows them to “sweat”. Let them cool and then you can easily peel off the charred skins. And, there you have it! Your very own roasted red peppers!
Once you have added the roasted red pepper and the sauteed onions, then it is time for some more green! I like to use a mix of fresh baby spinach and arugula to mine. The arugula gives a nice peppery flavor that really adds to the rest of the ingredients.
My final addition that I like to add is just a drizzle of some truffle oil over the vegetables. This is not a necessity, but if you are a fan of truffle anything, like me, then this puts the panini over the top!
If you have a panini press, make sure you coat it with a little spray oil before you warm it up. Put the sandwich together and place it in the press and cook it until the loaf of bread starts to turn a nice golden brown. If you do not have a panini press, you could throw your panini on a well heated grill and flip (which is not easy, but can be done!) once the one side turns a light golden brown. You could also heat it in a large pan (you may have to cut it in half if your loaf is big. Plus this may make it easier to flip). If you do it this way or on the grill, I like to flatten it out a bit as it cooks with a metal spatula which gives it more of a panini appearance. As with the ingredients, you can also be creative with how you cook it using the resources that you have.
Once it is cooked to your liking, place on a cutting board and cut into however many pieces you would like. Wrap them in some foil and place them in your bag or cooler, depending on how long it will be before you will be eating them. They are also delicious cold! These are filling sandwiches which is why I like to take them on picnics! You do not need a whole lot of other sides to go with them! Paninis are just like any other sandwich where you can change up the ingredients to your liking, but what makes them super yummy is the crusty outside of the bread, which comes from the way you bake them.
If you go ahead and make your own panini, leave me a comment as to what ingredients you used! Would love to get more ideas and I will share more with you as I try out more to come!