My husband and I were in London when we first met the panini, a glorified relative of the humble (but tasty!) grilled cheese sandwich. It had never occurred to me to make them at home until I saw an idea in an old issue of Real Simple. No fancy panini press is required; in fact, all you need is a plate and a heavy can or two.
A loaf of Italian or French bread, or something similar probably works best. My husband requested turkey, pepperoni, colby jack cheese, and green pepper in his sandwich; mine contained the same minus the pepperoni, and with the addition of fresh tomato slices. I also added a "splash" of raspberry vinaigrette dressing, which we agreed greatly enhanced the flavor.
On medium heat, I placed the sandwiches side-by-side in a greased saucepan and set the plate on top, weighting it down with two large (28 oz.) cans. Each side was grilled for 3-4 minutes.
In addition to tasting great, the panini meets all my requirements for a winning meal: nutritious, quick, inexpensive, and easily-"customizable"!
Bonus idea: Because my husband likes to order grilled burritos at a local fast food joint, I thought I'd try the same plate and can technique for those, too, and it worked great for us!
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