By Melanie Barnard
Fireside/Simon & Schuster, $16.95, 95 pages
When is a sandwich not just a sandwich? When it’s a Panini! Having exploded in popularity over the past few years, the panini – essentially a grilled bread filled with meats and cheeses – originated in the sidewalk cafes of Italy and has spread across the Atlantic and around the world. Along comes Melanie Barnard’s cookbook, devoted entirely to this mouth-wateringly simple sandwich.
Panini is chock full of delicious and varied recipes that will appeal to old and young alike, regardless of their culinary skills. Anybody with so little as a heavy-bottomed pan and an appetite for a quick and hearty meal will be able to make a tasty and filling panini.
Recipes range from the simple, tried-and-true (Peanut Butter & Jelly, Three Cheese And Tomato Melt) to more complex (Grilled Salmon With Chipotle Aioli) and regionally inspired (Shrimp Po’Boy, Traditional Cubano). There are even breakfast and dessert paninis, and in addition to sandwich recipes, Barnard offers grilling tips and serving suggestions, such as appropriate wines and side dishes. The recipes are straightforward and rely on easy-to-find ingredients, and many include beautiful photographs that perfectly showcase each sandwich creation. With 40 different variations, it’s possible – and tempting – to try a new recipe every week, and never grow bored.
Reviewed by Mark Petruska