Who hasn’t been to a restaurant recently without panini on the menu? Grilled panini have exploded in popularity in today’s American restaurants and fast-food chains. The combination of fresh ingredients and warm toasted bread make a perfect complement for soup on a cold day, a casual lunch with fries or chips, or a quick, on-the-go meal. Panini are a favorite menu item for many people, promising satisfaction, fresh tastes, and bold flavors.
As expected, the origins of panini (singular: panino) hearken back to Italy, where it was known as a simple sandwich to satisfy workers looking for a quick lunch. Panini, meaning small bread, were originally comprised of a rustic, artisan style bread, stuffed with a cured meat – something that could be prepared beforehand and kept without refrigeration. Panini started popping up more commonly in Italian paninoteche (sandwich shops) during the 1960s. As a hot new trend, big U.S. cities like New York began serving panini in the 1970s and 1980s. As the panini’s popularity grew, the sandwich evolved from a simple loaf stuffed with cured meats, to include vegetables, cheese, and even spreads. Over the years, they discovered that while panini were good as is, toasted panini were even better! The first were originally toasted in fry pans, but electric grilled presses became favored as their prevalence increased. Today we find many varieties of panini that include fresh meats, cured meats, leafy greens, fresh or grilled vegetables, hard and soft cheeses with an equal variety of spreads!
We invite you to explore with us our take on the panino using our newest Zesteez flavor!
We’ve used our Zesteez versatile Mint Cilantro Chutney as an infused tofu marinade. Combined with fresh mozzarella, red onions, firm tofu, and some simple salt and pepper, we’ve created an easy, flavorful sandwich anyone can enjoy! As panini are typically made with firmer breads like ciabatta, focaccia, or a baguette, we have chosen a cracked sourdough for its texture and complementary flavor.
Did you know?
The hallmark of a panini is not the grilling or toasting of the bread. Panini can be served as is, or even with the bread buttered or brushed with olive oil, to add a richer flavor. The distinguishing feature is actually the bread itself – loaf bread are typically used, not sliced bread. With the use of sliced bread, the sandwich becomes un tosto! Not to worry – whether you have sliced or loaf bread, we promise you’ll enjoy the savory flavors found in every bite.
Mint Cilantro Chutney Infused Tofu Panini
- Cracked sourdough bread
- Shredded mozzarella – A handful (to evenly disperse on the sandwich)
- Organic Tofu, super firm (or any protein) – Use half of it, dice into cubes
- Mint Cilantro Chutney – 2 tbsp
- Thinly sliced red onion – 1/4 cup (use as needed)
- Vegenaise or mayonnaise – 1 ½ tsp (enough to spread on the bread)
- Salt – To taste
- Pepper – As needed
- Cilantro – To garnish
- Marinate the tofu in Mint Cilantro Chutney for about 5 – 10 mins (make sure the juices have seeped into the tofu)
- Sauté sliced onion for a few seconds and set aside
- Lightly toast the top and bottom halves of the sandwich in a bit of butter.
- Spread mayonnaise/vegenaise on bottom half
- On the top half, liberally spread the Mint Cilantro Chutney
- Layer the marinated tofu or protein and the sauteed onion, sprinkle salt & pepper, garnish with cilantro
- Press the top half over the assembled sandwich and grill it in the panini maker. Cook 5 to 7 minutes until toasted and the cheese has melted.
- Let it sit for a minute, (this is done to hold the juices in)
Slice the sandwich and serve it up with some tasty chips or sweet potato fries for lunch, or add salad or soup for a casual dinner. You can even include a small dish of Mint Cilantro Chutney, or any of our other chutney flavors on the side to dip your chips or fries!
Zesteez strives to make at-home cooking easy yet exciting, with innovative flavors and recipes to keep everyone satisfied and coming back for more! Cooking at home is also a great way to bring the family together. Involve kids and teenagers to make their own sandwiches and take pride in their healthy creations. Starting them young in the kitchen and experimenting with food like our flavorful chutneys, they’ll develop an appreciation and palate for good food, fresh flavors, and unique creations.
Enjoy and see you next time for another EZ recipe!
Stay Zesty and Happy!