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The crunchy exterior and the warm molten center are what make panini so appealing. We have the Italians to thank for these warm pressed sandwiches. The popularity of panini first hit its stride in 1970s Milan, when specialty restaurants dedicated to these pressed sandwiches first started opening. Soon, the panino (the singular of panini in Italian) trend traveled to cities in the United States.vegetables, we have come to associate any sandwich that has the characteristic grill marks with this popular Italian sandwich. Even better, panini don’t have to adhere to savory restrictions. Just as delicious are the dessert variety, which replace gooey cheese with melty chocolate, a drizzle of warm honey, or caramelized fruit.
For some clever twists on this Italian favorite, try these creative takes on the pressed sandwich, which include both savory and sweet iterations, as well as experimentation with different style breads and Americanized toppings.
Shutterstock / Jesse Kunerth
A Cuban-style panini is an easy way to change up that ham and cheese sandwich you’ve been eating since third grade. By adding a couple ingredients that are probably already in your fridge, you can make a jealousy-inducing packed lunch that looks more like restaurant take-out.
Focaccia Panini with Prosciutto alla Caprese
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This panini is unique because it features focaccia, a dense, “quilty” Italian bread whose spongy texture soaks up flavor. I also like the fact that focaccia doesn’t have an overly chewy crust — it’s perfect for your picnic enjoyment!
Angela Carlos is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Find her on Twitter and tweet @angelaccarlos.