Chicken Panini

When Mike and I traveled to Italy in August 2012, I soon learned that what American's term a "panini" differs from the Italian panini.  In the U.S. we use the word "panini" to mean a grilled  sandwich (singular), but in Italy panini {derived from the word pane = bread} actually means small breads (plural).  Panino is a single small bread roll and is also a generalized term for a sandwich.

In Italy a panino uses a hearty bread like a ciabatta, then is cut horizontally, and filled with deli meats and cheeses.  It is not necessarily grilled or pressed, but can be warmed in the oven.  When a sandwich is heated in a sandwich press, the Italians call that "toast". 

If I was in Italy, I guess I would call today's recipe "chicken toast", but since I'm here in the U.S. I'll stick with what we know as the panini.  I used the arisan boule loaf which is a nice rustic crusty bread, but I have also used an onion, herb, and garlic focaccia bread which was a great addition to the sandwich. The layers in this sandwich include some smoked grilled chicken, eggplant-olive tapenade, roasted red pepper, fresh mozzarella cheese, and a few pinches of rosemary.  The chicken and red pepper were grilled outside, the sandwich was assembled and then placed in a panini press to melt the cheese and toast the bread.  This is a great quick and easy meal when wanting to use up leftover meat, too.

I hope you enjoy your panino (single sandwich) or panini (many sandwiches)!  Mangia Bene! 

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Ingredients for Chicken Panini

  • 1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken, grilled
  • 1/2 cup of eggplant olive tapenade
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • 1 loaf of ciabatta, boule, or focaccia

Directions for Chicken Panini

  1. Grill chicken, cool, then slice into 1/2 inch strips
  2. Grill whole red pepper until skin blisters and blackens.  Remove skin under running water.  Remove stem and seeds, cut into 1/2 inch strips.
  3. Layer chicken, roasted red pepper, tapenade, cheese and herbs onto bread.  
  4. Lightly coat panini press with non-stick spray.  Place sandwich onto press, close lid, grill 1-2 minutes.