I didn't actually need to make a quick dinner last night, it just worked out that I did. The kids are on vacation this week and after Hannah and I watched Desperate Housewives on the dvr in the morning, she said she wanted panini's for dinner.'(Okay, so it's a terrible show and not worth our time, but sometimes you have to have a LITTLE fun)
I do not own a panini maker. I don't like to keep a lot of appliances in my kitchen. These are the only ones I own, in descending order of kitchen importance: Cuisinart food processor, Kitchenaid stand mixer, mini food processor, rice cooker, pasta roller, ice cream machine, waffle iron, and pizzelle maker. That's it. There is really no need for panini makers and quesadilla makers and the like. You can do all of those things without any special equipment.
The one thing you do need to make a panini is some way to apply weight to the sandwich. What is a panini anyway? Essentially, it is a grilled cheese sandwich. What makes a good grilled cheese? Thin, crisp, grilled bread and a smooth melting cheese. How do you get that pressed together panini texture without a special griddle? Easy: a brick. Yes, a brick. Wrapped in foil. Go find a brick. Buy one if you need to, it's a hell of a lot cheaper than a panini maker. Wrap it in foil. Put it on top of your sandwich, grill until brown on one side, flip it over, put the brick back on and cook until the sandwich is browned and the cheese is melted. Yum! I even have some extra bricks if you need one. Let me know.
Here are some great panini fillings:
One sandwich with every available ingredient in it that I have on hand
Keys to a good panini
Use a sturdy bread like a pain de campagne or sourdough.
Use a good melting cheese such as provolone, muenster, swiss, or gouda
Make your spread flavorful: add a dollop of pesto or some chopped basil to your mayo. Sun dried tomatoes or sun dried tomato pesto are yummy. Try a turkey panini with fontina and mayo mixed with a spoonful of mango chutney.
Always season tomatoes with salt and pepper.
This is just a jumping off point. Although I hate it when people say, "Use your imagination" that really is the key here. Look in the fridge and see what you've got. Use whatever is in there. Get cooking!