Paninis are a great way to entertain a crowd! Pick an assortment of fillings and condiments and let everyone build their own panini! Works beautifully winter and summer!
My husband thought he had died and gone to heaven when he saw the array of cold meats. I chose from the local deli:
- roasted turkey slices
- roast beef slices
- Hungarian salami
- Black Forest ham
The possibilities here are almost endless. Of course you could really go Italian and think Mortadella, Prosciutto Cotta, Pastrami. Or any other type of cold meat that appeals. You can get Cajun Oven Roasted Chicken, Tandoori Chicken, Porchetta.
If you want go upscale we have made paninis with leftover flank steak sliced thinly, or leftover roast lamb slices. Leftover roast beef would work as well. Okay- any left over roast sliced thinly!
Pick cheeses that compliment the meat choices. Based on the meats above I chose
- Swiss Cheese to pair with the ham
- Provolone to pair with the Italian meats
- Brie to pair with the turkey
Again -unleash your imagination - there are all kinds of Italian cheese beyond the obvious Asiago and Parmesan shavings-Fruiliano, piave. Blue cheese would go well with the beef or a lamb choice. Cream cheese with the beef to go Philly style. Cheddar and beef for Canadiana! Gouda or Dutch cheeses with the ham or turkey. Oka or soft French cheese like St. Paulin or St. André. Hint: St. Paulin cheese, Granny Smith apple and Chardonnay are an absolutely awesome combination with or without the panini roll!
And I was having fun with all the additions! Think like you would for pizza toppings. I chose
- pear slices or Granny Smith apple slices
- red pepper slices
- pickled pepperoncini
- red onion slices
- sliced green olives
- toasted walnuts
- toasted pine nuts
- dill pickles
Other options? Black Olives, green pepper slices, roasted eggplant slices, roasted red peppers.
- Balsamic Fig Glaze
- Truffle Oil Dipping Sauce
Once again your imagination might lead you to a pesto sauce, garlic oil, Kraft Red Pepper salad dressing.
I usually use Naan bread for my paninis. I accept that anyone of Italian heritage is probably cringing right now. The traditional would be with Italian rolls, like ciabbata or michetta cut horizontally. I think they would be awesome with this rustic No Knead Rosemary Garlic bread as well. Or these Copycat Olive Garden Rolls! I plan to have panini parties often now so I will definitely be trying these next time!
This makes an excellent choice for a vegetarian option. Just skip the meat and think more substantial additions - like roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, Italian cheese. Or roasted beets slices with feta, toasted walnuts and red onions. Or avocado with pine nuts, red onion and tomato slices. Roasted Portabello with garlic pesto and provolone.
Quantities will vary depending on the size of your panini bread choice. I found about 3 slices of deli meat gave good coverage for the Naan bread I was using. Many of the variations used 2 types of meat. So I would count about 6 slices of deli meat per panini, 2 slices of cheese per panini. For the condiments you will have to try to estimate how popular each one might be. The good news is if you put out a good quantity you can pack up whatever is not used. Pickles and veggies can serve as side condiments too.
Paninis are quite filling when they are 'all dressed' like this so I would count 1 panini for women and 2 for men.
The other good news is quantities are rather forgiving - especially the additions and condiments.
As you may know from previous posts - I found my panini maker in a drug store on sale for $10. No hesitation - it was mine! I use it all the time. If you have a George Foreman style grill that will definitely work too.
If you don't have any special equipment you can oil a heavy skillet and press your panini down with another heavy pan or large spatula. Or you can fire up your BBQ and grill it on medium heat, again pressing down with a heavy spatula or pan to flatten.
Have each guest build their own panini from all the choices and grill their own. It only takes 3-5 minutes. They are better when they rest a bit so you don't burn your mouth on hot gooey cheese.
I find if I cut a Naan bread in half and build my panini, it fits perfectly in my panini maker. You can then cut that half moon shape in half to make a manageable panini size. Of course if you are using a grill you can do more than one panini at a time.
I like to make a few and cut them in half and put them on a platter. Then people can pick and choose which flavour combos appeal to them. (But then you are more hands on in this scenario).
Of course your wine selection can be as varied as they style of panini. Chardonnay with the turkey brie, Chianti or Sangiovese with the Italian meats and cheeses. Merlot goes with pretty much everything!
So... here is a perfect Super Bowl option to feed a crowd, summer patio party, Friday night casual supper. Host and Hostesses - you're welcome!
Panini Party Anyone?
Turkey, Brie, Pear Panini
- 3 slices deli roast turkey
- 5 thins slices fresh pear or Granny Smith apple See Note 3
- 3 thin slices Brie Cheese
- 6 toasted walnut halves see Note 2
- 1 thin slice red onion
- Fig Balsamic Glaze
- mustard and mayonnaise optional
Roast Beef, Pepperoncini Panini
- 3 thin slices deli roast beef
- 2 thin slice provolone cheese
- 1 thin slices red onion
- 2 Tbsps sliced green olives
- mustard/mayonnaise/pesto optional
- 4 thin slices prosciutto
- 3 thin slices salami
- 2 thin slices provolone
- thin slices red pepper
- thin slices pepperoncini
- mustard/mayonnaise/pesto optional
Ham and Swiss Panini
- 3 thin slices Black Forest Ham
- 2 thin slices Swiss cheese
- 3 thin slices Granny Smith apple or pear
- thin slices red pepper optional
- mustard/mayonnaise optional
Roasted Eggplant, Red Pepper Panini
- 2 slices roasted eggplant
- 3 pieces roasted red pepper (from a jar)
- 2 thin slice provolone
- pesto sauce to taste
- 2 Tbsps toasted pine nuts See Note 2
- 2 slices naan or other flat bread
- Slice Italian rolls in half horizontally. Or slice Naan into 2 half moons. Spread condiments of your choice on both sides of bread. Add deli meat, cheese and additions of your choice. Close up panini and grill in a hot panini maker 3-5 minutes until toasty and cheese is melted.
- If using a hot skillet or BBQ grill, oil the grill or pan bottom and press the panini down with a heavy skillet or spatula. Flip and press again. Remove when bread is toasty and cheese is melted.