Panini Envy

I don't own a panini press (please don't send me one, I have no room to store it), but have always loved paninis.
Paninis are Italian pressed down sandwiches grilled to perfection.

Well, I make paninis for lunch all winter long. "How you do that Dacey?" my 3 year old neighbor asks.

It's easy. I have a large heavy grill pan (a cast iron skillet would do, but then you won't get the nice grill marks) and I use the heaviest All Clad pot lid that I own to weight it down.

Here comes the hard part.
You need some muscle, which I happen to have (6 ft. 5" tank living with me), to hold the press (lid) down on the sandwiches.

The results are perfect. All the ingredients meld together and become one. You'd never know that I cheated!


Fresh mozzarella w/ roasted tomatoes and pesto on Italian loaf:
makes 3 sandwiches

1 fresh mozzarella ball, sliced
a few tbsp of pesto (jarred is fine, it's winter)
a few roasted tomatoes or roasted peppers from a jar (it's winter, still fine)
6 slices of good Italian ciabatta bread

Put a little olive oil in your grill pan. Heat on high and place your sandwiches on the pan. Place heavy lid on top of your sandwiches and press down hard!

When the bottom has grill marks and the cheese begins to melt, flip the sandwiches over with tongs. Press down the other side till cooked.

You will have a nice, gooey, cheesy, crispy, delicious sandwich.
What more can I say?


Linda said…
I'd know that hand anywhere!! He is so useful to have around.
Looks yummy!!
kat said…
We love a good panini! We ended up getting a little cast iron press to go with our grill pan. It's so handy without having to store a whole press. We also use it for bacon
Ciao Chow Linda said…
Now that looks serious delicious and what I want for lunch today. I don't have a panini maker either but use a grill pan like yours and a hand press that our daughter gave her father as a gift.
Anonymous said…
Correction : please send Stacey a panini press and she will donate it to me. Thank you.

Stace, you cheat stylishly, I have to say. I expected no less of you, of course.
exceptional......hey, get yourself a bacon press - surely you can store that!
SarahB said…
wow. Looks awesome. I'm jealous!
Anonymous said…
I love the combination of mozzarella cheese with pesto. When I was in college, I used to press my paninis with textbooks I couldn't sell back.
Mila said…
Stacy that's how I make mine too!
I love it!
LaDue & Crew said…
Oh my favorite!! I have a brick that I've wrapped in foil and I just set that on top of the panini, or on top of a lid. Way cheaper than a panini maker, and no storage issues!
Just bit my computer screen. Love paninis! - John
Bob said…
Mmmmm, panini. Those look great, makes me wish I had a grill pan. And some All-Clad stuff... ;)
Anonymous said…
Wait.. are you using your husband as a cooking utensil?
Well done! :-) I love paninis and yours look beyond delicious.

And people SHOULD send you a panini press so you can donate it to Claire so she can make paninis for me. :-D
Beloved said…
I do the exact same thing! How great. I am enjoying your blog, as I am new here.
Anonymous said…
Great idea Stacey! I do something similar to pan roast a whole de-spined chicken.
Anonymous said…
Yep, you don't need a press...that looks awesome! I use a heavy bacon press for mine or put heavy cans on my works!
Alexa said…
In the olden days we used our stove-grill and a brick covered with alu foil. I love clever alternate ways to avoid gadgets. It looks like yours came out beautiful and delicious!
Patsyk said…
Looks like the perfect panini to me. I love those sandwiches... thanks for reminding me I need to make them more often.
Meredith said…
I used to use a hand-me-down George Foreman grill as a poor substitute for a panini press until it recently broke. Your method looks even easier. Thanks for the tip!
Michele said…
I wish I returned the panini press I have. Such a waste of space and honestly like you said, you don't need one. Your panini look great. I love the combination of ingredients!
I have a brand new one sitting in my pantry, I think I used it 4 times. I like your way better, although my hubbys only 5'11. lol!!
Anonymous said…
I was given a panini for christmas, I cant wait to try this recipe. Sounds delicious and exactly what Im craving for dinner.
Chef E said…
These look wonderful...I have a grill pan too, and just cannot give into buy another gadget like a panini maker like so many do. Our grandmothers used what they had, right?
Anonymous said…
Those DO look perfect! I can just taste them now :-)
MrOrph said…
I too improvise as I think a panini press is too much of a multi-tasker. I use the top of my cast iron stove-top smoker and my bacon presses that I never use for bacon.

Yours are perfect.