Panini, Italian style stuffed sandwiches, are popular in restaurants all over the U.S.
While the first reference to the panini is believed to be in a 16th century Italian cookbook, the panini did not truly make its mark in Italian cuisine until the 1960s. It is believed that at this time, the panini became a staple lunch item for office workers in Lombardi, Italy, who did not have much time for lunch but did not want to sacrifice on flavor or quality of their meals. Paninis were a delicious, fast option that did not require much effort as they can be heated quickly or eaten as a cold sandwich. It was not until the 1970s in New York, however, that paninis gained popularity in the United States, appearing in trendy Milanese style bars called “paninoteches.” The sandwich fad continued with teens in Italy during the 1980s who so frequently gathered in panino bars to enjoy a sandwich together that they became known as panninare. In Italy today, you will find a good Panini in a paninerias, which specialize in sandwich making.
So what exactly are panini?
The singular form of the word in Italian is actually “panino” which translates literally to “little bread” in English. There is an Italian saying, “buono come il pane” meaning “It’s as good as the bread” and it represents how passionate the Italians are about their breads. Any type of bread can be used to make a panini, however, the really dense, Italian breads such as focaccia or ciabatta are the popular choice for paninis and tend to hold up well for grilled versions of the sandwich. A typical panini usually consists of flavorful meats such as prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, or mortadella and are often accompanied by mozzarella, provolone or asiago cheeses. Vegetables such as spinach, red peppers, olives, tomatoes, and basil add additional flavor to the panini. A drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to finish brings all of the flavors together for a tasty sandwich. If you try making a panini at home, the sandwiches are equally delicious when made cold or hot. However, if you prefer a hot panini, try brushing the outer sides of the bread with olive oil or a little butter to give the sandwich a crispier texture. For added convenience while grilling, try using a panini press, a two sided sandwich grill that allows the sandwich to heat without the need to flip!
Stop by Vero Amore during your lunch hour and enjoy one of our delicious panini. Half sandwich options are also available with soup or salad!