In culinary school, before we went out for our internships we had to work at the on campus restaurant. One of the stations was the take out pizza counter where we got to throw personal pizzas into the 500F+ stone pizza oven and watch them magically puff and crisp to golden melty perfection in 7 minutes. The take out pizza counter also offered fresh panini for those not in the mood for pizza. The panini menu changed daily, and one day we offered pizza panini. Thick sourdough bread stuffed with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni, served with spicy marinara sauce for dipping. This quickly became my favorite, and I ordered it every time it was on offer. Yes, I passed up the brick oven thin crust pizza in favor of the pressed sandwich. Since I worked at the pizza counter, I was able to customize my pizza panini with mushrooms instead of pepperoni and sauce in the sandwich instead of on the side.
I made these pizza panini at home recently for my (and baby’s) own indulgent lunch. I managed to save 1.5 sandwiches for the girls to share when they got home from school. I thought they might not like them because they aren’t actually pizza, but they loved the idea of pizza in sandwich form! They gobbled them up, and asked if we could have these for our next pizza and movie night instead of regular pizza. Score! I made a few with just the mozzarella and pepperoni inside with the pizza sauce for dipping, which is what the kids seemed to prefer. For myself, I like to spread a bit of the sauce onto the bread, then stuff with cheese. The sauce soaks into the bread creating the thinnest layer of slightly soggy bread which, when combined with the crunchy outer layer of sourdough and the melty stringy mozzarella, just creates the perfect combination of textures for me.
You can go the spreading route or the dipping route depending on what you prefer. You can stuff these sandwiches with any of your favorite pizza toppings, too! If you like spicy, add a little crushed red pepper to your pizza sauce. Any way you slice it (or fill it), Pizza Panini will quickly become a family favorite!
Keep on scrolling past the recipe for a whole bunch of pizza recipes from around the web!
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