Our family will enjoy homemade grilled panini sandwiches for supper on Christmas Day. Each person will be able to assemble their own sandwich and cook it using my George Foreman grill. A panini party is fun anytime of the year, however.
Choose two or three themes for your grilled panini sandwiches and buy the ingredients accordingly; it is wise to choose breads and sandwich fillings with possible leftover ingredients in mind that you like to consume so that nothing goes to waste.
My bread choices will be two varieties of rustic breads plus flour tortillas. The other grilled panini sandwich ingredients I will have on hand for my party are:
1) Italian sausage combo grilled panini
Ingredients: cooked Italian sausage, crumbled; mozzarella cheese; mushrooms; onion; green bell pepper; black olives, and tomato. (Put the tomato in the center of the sandwich; if very seedy, remove seeds to keep the juice-factor lower).
2) Hawaiian grilled panini
Ingredients: Canadian ham; Swiss cheese; onion; green bell pepper, and honey mustard dressing.
3) Chicken taco grilled panini
Ingredients: Seasoned cooked diced chicken; onion; black olives, and cheddar cheese. Add fresh lettuce and fresh tomato after grilling sandwich. (Serve salsa on the side).
Prior to the event
When making grilled panini sandwiches for a party, the host or hostess will need to cook meats and slice ingredients ahead of time for easy sandwich preparation by the guests.
For these three sandwich offerings I will need to cook the Italian sausage and the diced chicken (using diced skinless chicken breast, seasoned with Italian seasoning); this will be done the day before the party. Slicing will involve the bread, cheese, mushrooms, green bell pepper, onion, tomato, and black olives.
For sandwich preparation by the guests
Have paper plates available for guests to use while they are assembling their sandwiches. Lay out ingredients for each type of sandwich in separate work areas. When layering ingredients within the bread, it is good to put the cheese slice(s) next to the bread, then put the other ingredients between the layers of cheese.
Place a lined cookie sheet near the grill for guests to use for “buttering” the sandwiches prior to grilling. You can use melted butter and a brush, olive oil, or a light application of butter-flavored spray, which is my choice. Lightly butter or spray both sides of the bread before placing the sandwich on the George Foreman grill.
Grill the sandwich until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. Slice the sandwich with a straight-edged knife rather than a serrated knife for a cleaner cut.
Some good garnishes: Chips and dips; pasta salad; coleslaw; green salad or Caesar salad.
Homemade grilled Panini sandwiches can be as varied as you like. A good source of ideas is paninihappy.com/.
For dining out in Colorado or Minnesota, you won’t go wrong by visiting Panino’s, a restaurant where I have happily dined often. My favorite sandwiches at this panini restaurant have been the source of inspiration for the three homemade grilled panini sandwiches that I will serve at my party.
The Panino’s restaurant makes a unique Italian sandwich using a “secret dough recipe.” They bake the sandwich and serve it rolled and sliced. These are excellent, but not easily duplicated at home.
I hope you enjoy making homemade grilled panini sandwiches soon for a party; it is an easy way to have fun in the kitchen, make use of a George Foreman grill or other sandwich grill for your panini sandwiches, and ensure that a good time is had by guests and hosts alike.
See also by R.C. Johnson:
Famous Dave’s Food for My Christmas Dinner
Famous Dave’s Onion Strings (and Ribs!)
Entertaining? Serve a Hot Ciabatta Sandwich
Source: Personal experience