Saturday, October 20, 2012

Paninis Without the Press

by Peg Cochran

The word panino is Italian for "small bread roll.”  The plural form is panini.  A panini is essentially a sandwich although it has come to refer to a grilled sandwich.  They make special panini presses, and while I’ve ogled them in the Williams Sonoma catalog on more than one occasion, I decided that I really didn’t need another gadget in my kitchen (famous last words!).  So…I came up with an alternative method.

I usually put the panini on my cast iron stove top grill and top it with the heavy cast iron frying pan that I inherited from my grandmother, and which I will be able to leave to my children, grandchildren, etc.  (Do they ever wear out?)

I was going to make some paninis the other day when I spied my waffle iron on my shelf.  Hmmmm….how about a sandwich grilled in that?  Not strictly a panini maybe, but I thought it might be interesting.  My husband loved it!  It got nice and crispy, and the cheese melted beautifully.

You have lots of options for your filling, but for your bread you need something fairly substantial—tonight I’m using a Portuguese bread I found in the grocery store.  Other times, I’ve used a round loaf of peasant Italian bread. 

I’ve used deli meats (ham and turkey specifically) with a layer of cheese (provolone or swiss) with great results.  But I also like to use leftover chicken.  We had a rotisserie chicken the other night so I’m going to use the leftover white meat. 


Deli meat slices or white meat chicken
Slices of cheese
Extras: Sliced tomatoes, avocado or onion

Italian or Portuguese bread
Your basic waffle iron
A glass of wine for the cook!

First, put some mayo on each slice of bread.  I use light mayo.  If you aren’t at all concerned about calories, butter the outsides of the slices of bread.  If you want to limit the caloric hit, you can spray them with non-stick cooking spray such as Pam.   Place your choice of fillings on the bread, put your sandwich together and place in your waffle iron and press down.  I wasn’t able to completely close and lock my waffle iron, but that didn’t matter.

The delicious finished product
 Grill for approximately three minutes (depends on how hot your waffle iron gets so be sure to check every minute or so.) 

Available now from Berkley Prime Crime
Available now from Berkley Prime Crime


  1. I've used my small George Forman grill to make the panini's. Works well, too.

  2. Yes, I imagine the Foreman is great for that! I can imagine doing a "sweet" panini with butter on both sides of the bread, thin apples slices, brown sugar and cinnamon and some more pats of butter. Kind of a grilled apple pie!

  3. I was going to say the same thing about the George Foreman grill.

  4. The Foreman is one of those "gadgets" I no longer own since mine passed away after a lot of use! What's fun about using the waffle iron is you end up with a sandwich that looks like a waffle. I imagine it will appeal to kids--especially the picky eaters in the bunch!

  5. Brilliant, just brilliant. I can't wait to try this. Thanks, Peg, and have a delicious weekend! ~ Cleo

  6. So clever! Some panini makers come with interchangeable plates so you can make waffles as well. That waffle pie idea sounds wonderful!

    I spy wine, though. Where exactly does the wine come in? ; )

    ~ Krista

  7. Peg, love the waffle iron idea. How clever!!

    Daryl aka Avery

  8. Krista, the wine is clearly meant to inspire the cook! And with this waffle iron idea, I'd say she was brilliantly inspired!

  9. I do believe I have that same waffle iron! And I've had it a LONG time, still works great! I think I'll try this out the next time the grandkids come over.~ Nurse JudyMac

  10. The wine was definitely divine inspiration! A nice red goes great with pan inis! And Nurse Judy, I've had my waffle iron forever, too--more than 10 years. And it was cheap. Or should I say "Inexpensive." LOL

  11. I love the wine! As the saying goes, "I love to cook with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food"! I've never owned a waffle iron-but I love my George Foreman!