August is National Sandwich Month, time to move beyond your standard choices and try something different.
Since August is also National Panini Month, we dragged the panini press out of the closet (no room on the counter!) and invited a group of friends to a “Panini Brunch.” They asked what they could bring, and we told them: whatever you want to drink with your panini.
Starting with ciabatta bread, everyone picks his/her sandwich ingredients from a selection of:
A panini press is an electric sandwich grill consisting of two metal plates hinged together. The hot plates are clamped down on a prepared sandwich, pressing it into a dense sandwich while toasting the outsides of the bread with the signature grill marks and warming the filling (in the case of cheese, melting it).
Before sandwich grills, toasters or griddles were used to make toasted sandwiches. Thomas Edison invented an early sandwich grill in the 1920s, but it didn’t take off commercially.
Fast forward: Sandwiches toasted in a panini press became popular in Italian bars and cafés in the 1970s and 1980s. The trend spread internationally, and in another decade, panini presses could be found in appliance departments across the U.S.
The sandwich grill—the panini press is the Italian version— made it possible to brown two slices of bread at the same time.
Panino means “little bread” in Italian, and literally refers to a roll (a “little loaf”). Panino imbottito. “stuffed panino,” refers to the sandwich, but the word panino is also often used alone in context to refer to the sandwich.
In Italian, panino is singular, panini is plural. English speakers adapted the words: panini for singular, panini for plural.
Don’t want panini? How about:
 A panino of turkey, cheddar and sliced apple (photo courtesy USApple.org). One of our favorites: turkey, gruyère, caramelized onions and tomato (photo courtesy Rick’s Picks).  Grilled veggies (photo courtesy PotsAndPans.com).  A panini press (photo courtesy Breville).
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