Christy Jordan is the south’s favorite foodie and owner and writer of SouthernPlate.com. She is the author of Come Home to Supper and Southern Plate. You can find the family at SouthernPlate.com, the Southern Plate Family Facebook Page, Front Porch Forums, on Twitter or you can subscribe by email.
We used to have a little Italian restaurant near our house that made the most amazing panini! My husband and I picked one up to split as a treat from time to time. I often remarked about how easy it would be to duplicate at home but didn’t become motivated to do so until they went out of business and we found ourselves longing for our favorite savory sandwich.
The Italian panini is a delicious blend of flavors, brought together with melted provolone cheese and set off by fresh tomatoes and the bright flavor of pesto sauce. The trick to helping it all come together is to keep your layers as thin as possible. Slice those tomatoes super thin and add only one layer of cheese. Once pressed into a panini and toasted golden, the flavors are maximized in each bite!
I don’t have a panini maker and I’m a big believer that in order for something to take up precious space in my kitchen it needs to be able to serve multiple uses, so my Hamilton Beach waffle iron began to lead a double life. Waffle iron by morning, panini maker by day! Unlike waffle makers in the past, my Hamilton Beach one has removable dishwasher-safe grids, which makes it perfect for panini that are known to have “cheese overflow” at times. We set out our ingredients and have a big family panini bar for lunch on Saturdays. Once everyone is done, I just let it cool down, remove the grids (by clicking a single button for each) and put them in the sink or dishwasher. Lunch is made and cleanup is done!