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In the last several years, the Panini Sandwich has crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Italy, faster than the Starship Enterprise for good reason:  Mediterranean cusine is light, healthy and delicious, and the Panini Sandwich is no exception to this statement.  In our area, it seems that every deli now features their version of a Panini Sandwich, and there seem to be endless variations.  After becoming addicted to their delicious taste, I decided to create my own version, so I could enjoy this wonderful cuisine at home.

Left:  Slice the peppers and tomatoes very thin for best results.  I prefer long, thing slices of pepper, and "half moon" shaped tomato slices.  Right:  Ingredients of sandwich, pre-made and arranged for ease of cooking.

Special tools:  George Foreman indoor grill, but any grill will work
Preparation time:  About 10 minutes
Cooking time:  About 6 minutes
Yield:  1 serving

Required Ingredients:
4 thin  slices salami
4 thin slices pepperoni
4 thin slices pastrami
1 slice smoked turkey breast
2 slices provolone cheese
2 slices mild cheddar cheese
1/2 roma tomato, sliced very thin
1/4 green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1/4 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 slices of sourdough bread, but rye works well, if that's what you prefer
Butter, mayonnaise, olive oil, non-stick cooking spray, such as PAM

Spray both sides of the grill with cooking spray, and allow grill to heat for at least 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, evenly coat each slice of bread with butter and mayonnaise to taste.  Arrange slices of bread with "flat" sides together. Place provolone cheese on one slice of bread, and cheddar cheese on other slice.  Place turkey and salami on one slice, and the pepperoni and pastrami on the other slice.  Evenly top both slices of bread with the pepper and tomato slices. Place two halves of sandwich together. Drizzle top of sandwich lightly with olive oil.  Turn over and drizzle other side.

Place on grill and close grill.  Grill until bread is toasted and a golden brown color, and cheese has melted, about 6 minutes.  Remove from grill, place on cutting board, and cut in half.  Serve immediately.  Recipe makes one sandwich.

I'm a fan of "stir fry" recipes, so I pre-chop the tomatoes and peppers.  While the grill is heating, I arrange the meat and cheese on a plate, and apply butter and mayonnaise to the slices of bread.  I use deli-style meat that is already pre-sliced, but you could use any type you wanted.  Just make sure that the meat is sliced thinly.

Left:  Both sides of the sandwich are assembled.  Note that the vegetables are evenly spead on both sides.  Right: The assembled sandwich is ready for the grill.  Both sides have been lightly coated with olive oil, to add superior taste and to help achieve the golden brown color.

Can you substitute ingredients?  Absolutely!  That's the fun of making a sandwich like this, is that you can make it different every time.  Mix and match any variety of meat and cheese that you want to.  Add more or less vegetables, as your taste dictates.  Are bell peppers to mild for your taste?  Use jalapeno peppers instead!  For a really authentic Mediterranean experience, add sliced olives.  The only rule that's etched in stone is have all ingredients thinly sliced.

Nothing is critical about making these.  If you'll recall your high school algebra, when dealing with an equation, what you do to one side, you must do to the other.  So when you're building a Panini sandwich, keep the rules of algebra in hand, and you'll do just fine.

Why build the sandwich with the "flat" side of the bread facing each other?  After placing the ingredients on the slices of bread, you simply have to roll one side the other, and you have a perfect sandwich.  If some of the veggies fall out in the process, just insert them back into the sandwich.

Left:  Sandwich on the grill and just about ready.  Note the golden color and the grill marks.  Right:  Ready to eat!

No, you don't have to spend big bucks on a specialized Panini grill.  I use my George Foreman grill to make my sandwiches, and I have had excellent results.  In fact, this recipe is based upon using a George Foreman grill.  A George Foreman grill isn't absolutely necessary, as you can use any indoor or outdoor grill, an oven broiler or even a frying pan.  However, do yourself a favor an purchase a George Foreman grill, as you'll find countless other uses for it.  Mine is a model GRP4, which features removable cooking surfaces, so cleanup is a breeze.  Despite the fact that the grill surfaces are Teflon coated, I usually spray the cooking surfaces with PAM, or another brand of cooking spray, just to add the extra dose of ease.  I prefer to cook, rather than to clean.

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