I’ve been dreaming up this sandwich for quite a while now and I’m not quite sure what took me so long to finally make it. I’ve been all about the panini lately. I mean, it’s basically grilled cheese stuffed with meat and veggies, what’s not to love? It’s a little bit healthier, and I think it tastes better too (but don’t tell grilled cheese I said that!).
One of my favourite flavour combos is peppers and onions. Whether it’s in fajitas or philly cheesesteaks, when peppers and onions are cooking, my mouth starts watering. So, I thought, why not take two of my current obsessions and put them together. I have to say, I’m quite happy with the results. Crispy bread, gooey cheese, mounds of veggies – so good!
The thing I love the most about panini is that you can stuff them with tons of fillings and once you press it together it all melds into one cohesive unit. Which means you get tons of flavours and textures without having to strain your jaw just to take a bite.
You don’t have to have a panini maker to make panini (I don’t!). I’ve included instructions for how to make them with or without, so that everyone can enjoy.
What’s your favourite panini combo?
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ green bell pepper, sliced
- ½ medium-small onion, thinly sliced
- 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced (you can sub for another ½ bell pepper, if desired)
- 8 slices provolone cheese
- 6 slices deli chicken (or use leftover roast chicken)
- 8 slices whole wheat sourdough or french bread
- olive oil butter spread or softened butter
- Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add peppers, onions and mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and continue to cook just until the onions begin to brown around the edges.
- Meanwhile prepare sandwiches. Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter. Take four slices of bread, butter side down; top each with 1 slice of provolone and 1.5 slices of deli chicken (if your bread is large, use 2 slices deli chicken each).
- Once veggies are cooked, remove from heat and top evenly among the four prepared slices.
- Wipe out skillet with paper towel and place back on heat, lowering heat to medium-low (do this only if not using a panini press).
- Place another provolone slice on top of vegetables and top with remaining bread slices, butter side up. Transfer to a panini press and cook until golden and cheese is melted. Or, transfer to the hot pan and place another heavy skillet (cast iron is great!) on top of the sandwiches, pressing down to squeeze everything together (it's a good idea to place a piece of parchment between the sandwiches and the top skillet to avoid the tops sticking to the skillet). Cook for several minutes (with skillet still on top) until bottom is golden brown and crisp. Remove skillet and carefully flip sandwiches. Place skillet back on top, pressing down firmly (no need for the parchment now unless you want to keep the bottom of the pan clean). Leave skillet on top while you cook for another few minutes, or until bottom is golden brown and cheese is melted.