Make Italian pressed panini sandwiches at home

A step-by-step photo tutorial.


1. Prep all of your fillings.

2. Place your bread on a cutting board and slice through on one side only, leaving the back side attached so it opens like a book.

3. Place the fillings in the sandwich and close it up tight.

4. If you do not have a big enough pan, cut the sandwich in half so it will fit.

5. Place the sandwich in a hot pan at medium heat. Have another pan heating on a different burner so it's very hot.

6. Place a piece of aluminum foil on top of the sandwich and then place the second hot pan on top of the aluminum foil.

7. Put on some oven mitts and press the pan down to flatten the sandwich while it cooks. Cook the sandwich until the insides are warm and the cheese starts to melt. You can flip the sandwiches over half-way through cooking so that the bottom doesn't burn. My sandwiches only took about 5 minutes to crust up and heat through.

8. Enjoy!

I've had hot pressed Italian sandwiches on my mind lately. For the past few weeks I've been frequenting a local Italian deli here in Largo, Cesarina's Italian Deli. She makes a mean Italian sub - fresh baked bread, cold cuts, shredded lettuce, tomato, onions, provolone cheese, and it's finished off with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. It is then hot-pressed to a perfect crust, and wrapped in foil. The secret to great Italian food is not a secret, it's simplicity.

The only drawback to Cesarina's subs is that, with the dripping oil and melted cheese, they're not a low calorie item. And at the rate I'm consuming them, this could be detrimental. So I've set out to make my own pressed Italian sub with some twists and substitutions to make them low(er) in calories and somewhat healthier (primarily by eliminating any oils used in making them). And best of all, as I found, you don't need to have a sandwich press to make a really authentic pressed sandwich at home. Two frying pans will work just fine.

- Whole wheat french baguette or Italian loaf
- Reduced fat provolone cheese
- Shredded lettuce
- Thinly sliced tomatoes
- Thinly sliced white onions
- Fat-free bologna
- Sliced ham
- Smoked turkey breast, sliced (optional)
- Fat-free Italian dressing or balsamic dressing (no high fructose corn syrup)
- Red wine vinegar (optional)
- Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- Dijon mustard

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