Here’s what I love about panini sandwiches – they’re delicious, nutritious and you get to use your creativity in the kitchen.  A panini sandwich meal is certainly not complicated.  Essentially, it’s a grilled cheese sandwich but a lot more fun.  These sandwiches originated in Italy and you can use all kinds of ingredients to put them together.  All you need is two pieces of oversized fresh bread and some butter spread on both sides.  Think of what you can do to make this different than your regular old grilled cheese.  What about whole wheat bread, rye or sourdough.  You can even try garlic or herb butter to add even more flavour.

But before you throw the bread in the pan though, you'll need to think about the ingredients you'll use. Rather than plain old processed cheese slices, use sliced provolone, mozzarella, cheddar or havarti. Next, add your meat. You can use chicken, ham, turkey or roast beef. You can even use tuna if you like but you'll probably want to mix it with some mayonnaise so that it sticks together inside the sandwich. Then, choose your vegetables. I like sliced tomatoes in my paninis but you can add cucumber, shredded carrot, olives or whatever you prefer. You can put a fried egg in your sandwich too if you're not worried about the fat content. In fact, it's very popular in Australia to put a fried egg in a sandwich along with all of your other ingredients. You might also want to add some fresh leafy herbs like mint or cilantro.

Then, assemble your sandwich by first putting a slice of cheese on one slice of bread, then your meat and veggies, another slice of cheese (so that everything sticks together) and the other slice of bread. Next, put it in a greased frying pan or panini maker. If all you have is a fry pan, use a spatula to gently lift one side when you think it might be browned and when it is, put your spatula underneath and your fingertips on the top of the sandwich to gently turn it over in the pan. If you have a panini maker - all the better. Your sandwich will cook faster and you'll be able to tell just from looking at the top of it that it's ready. The point is that it's a very simple sandwich to make if you allow yourself to get creative. If you've got large pieces of bread, paninis make a very satisfying meal for dinner if you're too worn out to make a full meal after a long day of work.