It is no secret that I am OBSESSED with paninis. I crave them almost as often as I crave pasta and if I see it on the menu, I almost always order it. Even though I am in love with this Italian inspired sandwich, I am sad to admit that I have never made them at home… until now. I thought you needed a grill or a press in order to make them properly but I was wrong. The following is what you can do if, like myself, you do not want to spend the money on a machine that would just clutter your kitchen. Here is my TWIGS inspired panini:
Bread- I used 12 grain whole wheat
(any type would work but the ones that are used the most for Paninis are Ciabatta, Rosetta and Baguette)
2 Cloves of Garlic
Half of an Avocado, sliced
Half of a Tomato, sliced
1-3 Turkey Slices
Handful of Baby Spinach
1 Red Bell Pepper
Brie Cheese (sliced)
Chicken, cooked and diced
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a large pan or skillet, heat about 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium-low. Dice your garlic and once the pan is heated, allow the garlic to simmer for a couple of minutes.
Season the chicken with salt, pepper, paprika, Italian seasoning and any other spices you wish. It’s fun to see what flavors you enjoy so experiment! I used chicken thighs with the bone in because I think they are the tastiest part of the chicken and leaving the bone in while cooking gives it extra flavor. Place the chicken in the garlic and oil and let it start to cook.
While that begins to cook, dice your red pepper and then combine it with the chicken. At this point you can start preparing the other ingredients.
Take your bread and spread pesto on both slices. Then place enough spinach on both slices so that they are completely covered. By putting the spinach as the first layer, you prevent your bread from getting soggy from the other ingredients. I then layered the slices of tomato, avocado, brie, turkey and scoops of the red pepper from the pan. You can put as much or as little of the ingredients as you wish, I placed everything on both pieces of the bread.
Be sure to keep an eye on the chicken, while stirring the peppers and the juices.
When the chicken is almost completely white, add strips of bacon to the pan. Allow that to cook on the stove top for a few minutes and then place the pan in the oven keeping an eye to make sure nothing burns.
After 5-10 minutes, make sure the chicken has no traces of pink and remove it from the pan. Strip the chicken off of the bone and dice the chicken before placing it and the bacon strips as the last layer on the bread.
Now at this point, my sandwich looked huge and here came the fun part.
Take another frying pan large enough for not only the sandwich to fit but also for a pot or secondary frying pan to be placed on top of the sandwich. Place some of the juice from the first frying pan into the new one and heat on medium low. When the juices are warm, place the sandwich in the pan (mine was so tall I needed to use a spatula and a hand to keep it from falling apart- this might take time to perfect without the layers coming apart but it wasn’t too difficult to do).
This is when the other pot/pan comes in. Place it on top of the sandwich and push down. You can either use your hands to do this, but I have also seen people place cans or heavy jars in the pot so you are hands-free. I didn’t heat the bottom of the pot I used but I have heard it is an option if you wish to heat both sides of the sandwich at once. Rather than do that, I just flipped the sandwich over which is now much easier to do now that is it flattened out. Keep the pot on the sandwich for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat, cut the panini diagonally and voila!
It was delicious and by having so many colorful, healthy ingredients, you can’t feel bad about eating it. It makes you feel healthy and keeps you full for hours because of all of the protein and fiber. I will be making more paninis more often and can’t wait to try different ingredient combinations.