The classic Italian Panini has been around for hundreds of years, and has historically contained cured meats such as salami, pepperoni, mortadella, and prosciutto with Italian cheeses such as provolone, mozzarella, and scamorza. Sauces of all kinds have been added or not, according to the taste of the panini eater.
I’ve noticed, that during the last few years, with the mass production of panini grills that are available in every department and discount store, the popularity of this grilled sandwich has soared. In fact, the panini has become very trendy, which is a good thing since we can order these delicious hot sandwiches at many restaurants. Unfortunately trends can also be a bad thing since many cooks try to pass off any grilled sandwich as a panini, and other cooks sometimes put unlikely ingredients together which can give real panini a bad name.
I haven’t been to Italy lately, but I have been reading up on these wonderful sandwiches and find that even in Italy new ingredients are being introduced for panini, as well as a variety of breads. The following sandwich is made with thinly sliced Italian London Broil from the module (recipe link at the bottom of this article) which may be in the “new ingredient” category, but I have added provolone cheese and tomatoes which are classic panini ingredients. In fact, one of the most popular summer panini sandwiches is mozzarella and tomato, which you may want to try when you run out of the meat slices from the module.
You don’t have to have a panini grill, since the George Foreman-type grills will work very well for these sandwiches. In fact, for general quick cooking, I highly recommend that you have one of these grills; they are great time savers and I plan to include several recipes using them on the BellaOnline site in future articles. For those of you who really like hot sandwiches, the following is not only fast, but it captures the delicious flavors of authentic Italian Panini.
Italian London Broil Panini
6 grilled sandwiches
6 ciabatta buns, or crusty Italian Rolls
1/4 cup olive oil, more or less as needed
2 cloves garlic, pressed
6 slices provolone cheese
1 bunch fresh basil
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
12 ounces Italian London Broil slices from the Italian London Broil Module
Heat a panini press or George Foreman-type grill.
Slice the ciabatta rolls in half lengthwise. Mix the olive oil and garlic; brush on the cut sides of the rolls, place them on a baking sheet, and broil until lightly browned (you can skip toasting if you want your sandwich less crisp).
On the bottomside of each of the rolls place a slice of provolone cheese; top with a layer of basil leaves (more or less to taste), then a few slices of tomato. Top with Italian London Broil Slices. Replace the tops of the rolls over the beef and press down a bit. If you have some of the garlicky olive oil left, you may brush a little of it on the top and bottom of the sandwiches, then put them on the grill one or two at a time (depending on how big your grill is) and grill until the cheese is melted and the sandwiches are crisp on the outside. Cut in half diagonally and serve immediately.