I actually cannot believe I haven’t talked about paninis before, because I love them.  I mean, even ignoring the fact that they’re awessome, I don’t see how it’s possible to not love a panini, they’re so crisp on the outside and usually have some hot melty cheese action going on.

They’re like a hot pocket, without the pocket-ness.  Or the weird crust.  Or the tendency to burn your mouth.  So really, I’m not sure where I was going with this analogy, as they are not like hot pockets at all, except for the whole you-eat-them-with-your-hands factor.  Hot pockets!

My current favorite panini is brie, prosciutto and figs on ciabatta:

Fresh figs are best, but since they’re no longer in season, dried are still doing very nicely.  I actually got this panini idea from a restaurant that my friend Kjersti introduced me to.  One bite and it was love.  Of the panini.  Not Kjersti.  I don’t think I need to bite Kjersti to know she’s awesome.  🙂

Tommy and Penney gave us our panini maker and it has truly been a workhorse in our kitchen.  I think we use it about once a week, which is not bad for an appliance with pretty much only one purpose.  Some of the best hints they gave me was that ciabatta always makes awesome paninis (TRUTH, it does!) and to brush the bread with olive oil before use.  The olive oil does help with crispness and browning so it is not to be missed.

I am always on the quest for new ideas, so what are some of your favorites combinations?  Have you tried any that were a complete flop?  I can chime in and say cheese panini:  not as yummy as you might imagine.