Panini Anyone?

By DeDe Hausmann

August is National Panini Month and if you haven’t tried a PANINI, you are missing out! Get out of the sandwich rut and try a PANINI.  It can be very healthy if you make it with whole grain bread or rolls, a lean protein such as cooked beef, pork, poultry or fish, veggies and fruits (yes I said fruits), low-fat cheese, and whatever other goodies you choose to add.  Do note that nutrient-rich cheese in a Panini is very important for as the cheese melts, the flavors of the other ingredients come alive!!!

A Panini is an Italian PRESSED sandwich so there’s no heating up the oven.  You can buy a Panini Press OR just use a non-stick skillet and flatten the Panini with a foil-encased brick.  You can also produce a Panini on your outdoor grill.  Just use that foil-encased brick again.  Have an electric Waffle/Pancake maker?  The 2 smooth, pancake-producing surfaces will “press” the sandwich or if you want the “waffle indentations”, use that surface.  I also use my George Foreman Grill for making Panini’s.  See, there’s no excuse for not having “the right” equipment!! Do remember to grill/heat this delectable treat over low to medium heat so you don’t burn your creation!

Picture you and your family or friends enjoying the following Panini’s:

  • Place thin slices of roast turkey or chicken, red onion, tomato and cucumber, small bits of kale, fresh basil and Provolone cheese between 2 slices of a wheat/rosemary bread.  Bet a spicy mustard will add the right amount of ZIP to it!!!
  • Instead of a boring ham and Swiss cheese sandwich, take your favorite multi-grain bread, spread a  “horsey” sauce on each slice, sandwich in thin slices of ham, zucchini, colored peppers, tomato (try a yellow tomato sometime), spinach and Swiss cheese slices.
  • Take 2 thick slices of rye bread, spread with a zingy Southwest-infused mayo, top with thin slices of beef, corned beef or pastrami, sandwich in some SHARP reduced-fat Cheddar cheese slices, and add lots of thin slivers of veggies before you heat this treat.  I use spinach or kale, cukes or zucchini, loads of tomato slices, and sometimes throw in some thin onion slices.
  • Ever try an Eggplant/Mozzarella/Avocado Panini?  Lightly spread reduced-fat mayo on the interior of a whole wheat bun, top with super-thin slices of grilled eggplant, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, a dash of salt and pepper, shredded carrots, and ultra-thin avocado slices.  It’s a vegetarian delight.

Notice how nutritious all of these PANINI’S are? Let your imagination run wild by trying to add something from at least 4 food groups.  Then add a cold veggie or fruit salad and a big glass of nutrient-packed MILK and you’ll have a tasty, nutritious meal.  Ready for a Panini?  I am!!!!

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