You know how it is. Sometimes you get home from work and you just can’t face the production of making a big dinner. But, you don’t want the expense of dinner out or unhealthy fast food options. In that case, let me tell you about a yummy alternative to all that. Paninis! Yep. Those lovely toasted Italian sandwiches that can include just about anything that is in your refrigerator. Grab a good cast iron skillet, a sandwich press (or a heavy heat proof object to press down the sandwiches), and Bob’s your uncle! Can someone explain that phrase to me? I’ve never understood it.
All I had to do was stop at the bakery and pick up a loaf of ciabatta bread and some provolone cheese on my way home from work. The rest came from my refrigerator. This dish is totally improvisational so what I’m listing here as ingredients are just a suggestion. Get creative!
- 1 loaf of Ciabatta Bread (cut in sandwich size servings and split in half)
- Extra virgin olive oil for brushing the inside and outside of the bread
- Tomato (sliced for sandwiches)
- Basil leaves
- Provolone cheese
- A variety of cold cuts. I used prosciutto, hot capicola ham, and Genoa salami
- Steamed asparagus
Heat your cast iron skillet over medium heat. You don’t want the pan too hot or you’ll burn the bread before the ingredients inside get nice and warm. You are going to want that cheese to get nice and melted. Brush your bread with the olive oil, inside and outside. Layer your ingredients. I like to start and end with cheese. It helps keep the sandwich together as it melts.
Place the sandwich in the hot pan and press down with your sandwich press.
Carefully flip the sandwich when it gets nice and toasted. Continue cooking until your cheese melts and the bread is toasted. Transfer sandwich to a cutting board and cut in half.
This is such a delicious and quick dinner option – or lunch for that matter! And for you vegetarians out there, this is a great option for you. Replace the meat with other cheeses, loads of veggies, maybe even some tempeh for extra protein. Anyway you slice it, this sandwich works for every taste!