A panini is a popular type of grilled sandwich made on Italian bread. Technically, the singular form of the word in Italian is panino, which does refer to a stuffed-bread sandwich, but this term is not commonly used in English speaking countries. Traditionally, it is made by stuffing either a loaf of bread or two slices of hearty bread with meats, cheeses, vegetables, and any other additions the cook chooses. These sandwiches have become quite popular grilled, though it is not absolutely necessary.
People who do wish to grill the sandwich may want to butter or brush the outside of the bread with extra virgin olive oil to give it a crispier texture. Some cooks use a panini press to grill the sandwich, which is essentially a two-sided grill. This method may also be accomplished by placing the sandwich on a grill, pressing down firmly with a spatula, and then flipping the sandwich over and repeating the process.
Of course, a cook can use any type of bread to make this sandwich, but it is important to use a relatively dense bread that will hold up well on the grill. Foccacia, ciabatta, and sourdough breads are popular, along with herbed varieties. Thick slices of Italian or French bread will also work well. Strongly flavored meats such as salami and prosciutto are often used with cheeses such as mozzarella, provolone or asiago.
Those who do not like these particular meats and cheeses should feel free to switch them out for anything they like better. Grilled chicken, turkey, and roast beef can also make delicious paninis. Cooks should bear in mind that the meat needs to be cooked before being placed in the sandwich — grilling it only heats it through, but does not actually cook anything. After the sandwich maker has selected the bread, meat, and cheese, it is time to add extra toppings.
Some popular additions include spinach, roasted red peppers, basil, olive oil, olives, tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and oregano. People who wish to swap out the meat and make a vegetable panini might use eggplant or zucchini, or any other vegetables. This sandwich can make a delicious and filling meal that is simple and quick to make, and can be easily customized.