Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just Don't Call It A Panini

For a long time, I had been coveting a Panino Press... one of those fancy contraptions they use in Italy to make toasty, warm, crunchy sandwiches with perfect golden lines of crispiness embossed on them. After all my various trips to Italy, I had developed a real affection for those quick sandwiches from the bar or the cafe. Last year, for Christmas, my parents got me a panino press of my own. But it was winter time, and I had this idea that the panino was strictly a summer food, needing fresh basil and fresh tomatoes.

So, summer came around, and tomatoes finally ripened, and I finally busted out my panino grill. First up I made a panino with roasted veggies, pesto and tomato slices. They were delicious... and a few days later we wanted more.

Now that I was getting the hang of this panino grill, I just grilled up my tofu and veggies in the press itself. Quick, easy, and great results! I made a batch of the Italian Tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance, and also grilled up some sliced zukes and eggplants which I had included along with the tofu in the marinade.

The tofus and veggies joined up with some thick red tomato slices and fresh basil pesto, and then they all got smooshed together into a hot, crispy, Sandwich of Love.

Well, guess what? It turns out that I am deeply in love with my panino press. Now I use it for everything! Here you can see my defrosted loaf of Red Seitan from Viva Vegan, quickly grilled up for a tasty protein boost with my lunch. And really, now I use it for just about everything. Just today, I pulled frozen veggie burger out of the freezer, popped it in the panino press on "warm" for 10 minutes, then finished off with a couple minutes of "sear" for full effect, and I was good to go! Since it cooks from top and bottom, it's a great way to quickly grill stuff and get perfect results.

Then, Mr. Vegan Eats & Treats had a genius idea: Dessert Panini. So, out came the indulgences! After a particularly healthy dinner of only Giant Salad, we busted out some of the vegan "nutella" I'd picked up on our European travels earlier this year, a fresh banana, and got to work.
Ooooooh Lordy! These babies were gooooooood. I'm sure that will not be a surprise to you. One was made with my vegan chocolate-hazelnut spread & bananas, and the other was made with Chocolate Peanut Butter and bananas. Mmm. I can't wait to explore the world of desserty panini!

Now that my panino press and I have finally realized the depth of our soul connection, I don't think this friend will ever get dusty again - not even in the winter time. Forza Panini!

fun fact:
Did you know that in Italian, a sandwich is called a "panino"? "Panini" actually means "sandwiches." But somehow, over here in America, a sandwich became "a panini." Incidentally, the same is also true for the word biscotti: one cookie is a "biscotto" and two or more cookies are "biscotti." Now you know, and now you can be a fancy word snob, like me.


  1. Dessert sandwich! Love it. We had a dumpling party last year and the dark chocolate + fresh banana fried in a wonton wrapper batch was a big hit...And now I see the pressed sandwich version and need it in my life.

  2. I love panini as well. I do tempeh reuben panini and I also like panini with peanut butter, dark chocolate, and bananas.

  3. So your panino press is like an awesome george foreman grill, kinda of. I have a sandwich press but always forget that I have it!

  4. You have made me covet this appliance, and I have no room for it!

  5. I want one! I don't even have an outdoor grill, just a little indoor electric one. But I would love a panino press to grill everything!! Especially those dessert panini (is that the correct use of the plural?).

  6. I love how versatile the panino press is! Your pictures really make that shine through. I want one now :)

  7. Thanks! Also "pierogies" is incorrect. Pierogi is already plural. Just one is a pierog! (We probably get more of that in Cleveland where pierogi are plentiful!) People always look at me funny when I say "Panino!" It's good to know I'm not alone.

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  9. Oh I love paninis! I had my first one a year ago and been in love since. I was actually thinking about making one next week for lunch. I don't have a panini press, although I desperately want one! I was going to try to use this little grill press that I have and see if it works. Not an official panini press but I hope it does just as good. Thank you for posting this, very motivational!

  10. biscotto! pierog! thanks for helping me be more of a linguistic snob, max will definitely appreciate it :-)!

    what's that square bread you used for the dessert panini (pl.)? also, will you make me a panino or maybe some panini, pleeeease?

    you're blogging up a storm lately, good for you!

  11. Anonymous4:34 PM

    Love your blog!
    My hubby and I don't have a panini press, but have turned our little George Foreman grill into one by putting a big can of tomatoes on it to press the sandwich.... it's not perfect, but it works! =)

  12. Anonymous4:38 PM

    whoa, this looks amazing! I never paid much attention to those panino presses, but now that I see what they can I have always wanted to grill stuff like this, but refuse to BBQ outdoors/on an open flame, etc. due to the carcinogens/cancer risk, but this seems like a great solution. Just when I cleaned out the kitchen...
    :-) jen e.

  13. Oh, wow. I am ever skirting a thin education/irritation line with my co-cafe-workers by pressing the singular panino. Thankfully we don't serve zucchini, but now you've given me a beautiful solution to that quandary, should it arise: "zukes"!! Thank you!

  14. Everything looks so good... but that dessert panini... oh wow!

  15. All those sandwiches look marvellous! I've always thought panini look so tasty, but I've never actually tried one. I should change that! Actually, I think my boyfriend's parents own a panino press... Would you need a special kind of bread to make one? I need to research this!

  16. Anonymous8:02 AM

    Amey, what kind of panino press do you use?

  17. Oh man, I'm going to miss the sandwich maker I left behind. I LOVE dessert paninis with ricemallow creme, peanut butter, and bananas! Also, pizza paninis!

  18. Thanks for all the great comments everyone!!

    I love the idea of a pizza panino, thanks Melisser!

    @Anonymous - I have a Cuisinart brand panino press, and so far, it's worked like a gem!



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