Perfectly cooked panini without a panini press, crunchy and toasted on the outside, warm, gooey, and cheesy on the inside!
It’s time for a new monthly series on the blog! Last month, we conquered Meatless Monday Meals, this month, we are tackling one of my favorite dinners, hot sandwiches. I have four really good ones coming at you this month, but we are going to kick April off with the one I make most often, delicious, fantastic homemade panini without a panini press.
I didn’t make panini at home for the longest time because I didn’t have a panini press, and then I learned this trick, and oh, the panini I have made since then. You don’t need an expensive press to make a good panino. All you need is a skillet and a heavy piece of cookware like, for example, an ancient piece of your grandmother’s CorningWare.
Making panini without a panini press is quick, easy, and honestly, less trouble to clean up afterwards. The resulting sandwiches are not as attractive as panini made with a press, but they taste just as good and are fantastic options for easy dinners. I make this quick weeknight version at least twice a month.
These panini involve tangy, garlicky aioli spread over French bread, paired with turkey, tomatoes, and your favorite melty cheese. They take 15 minutes from start to finish and are so, so good.
Add a quick and easy side (coming Wednesday), and it’s a perfect dinner for a busy weeknight that you can feel good about!
- 1/4 cup (56g) mayonnaise
- 1 garlic clove, pressed
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 16-ounce loaf French bread
- 4 ounces chicken or turkey deli meat
- 4 slices cheese of choice
- 1 tomato (optional)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
- In a small bowl, mix aioli ingredients together. Set aside.
- Cut bread into four even sections and slice those in half from end to end.
- Spread aioli on both sides of bread and assemble sandwiches with meat, cheese, and optional tomato.
- Give each sandwich a little press with the palm of your hands to flatten slightly.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat for a minute or two, so it has time to heat fully.
- While skillet is heating, butter the bottoms of two of the sandwiches and place into the hot pan.
- Place a heavy piece of cookware over the panini (cast iron works great for this) and press down firmly. Allow to cook for 1 to 2 minutes until golden and crunchy.
- Butter the tops of the panini and flip. Set cookware back on top, pressing down to flatten further. Cook for a minute or so and remove from heat.
- Repeat with the other two panini. Slice diagonally if desired. Enjoy!
Make-ahead Instructions: Aioli can be made up to 2 days in advance.
Recipe For Two Instructions: Half of 1/4 cup of mayonnaise is 2 tablespoons. No cooking changes are needed.