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You don’t need a panini press for this quick, savory sandwich

This Smoked Turkey and Cheese Panini is served with Italian Arugula Salad.
This Smoked Turkey and Cheese Panini is served with Italian Arugula Salad. Tribune News Service

Crisp crust, warm tasty fillings with melted cheese — no wonder paninis have become popular. Here’s a quick version filled with smoked turkey from the deli, roasted red pepper, fresh basil and goat cheese. There’s almost no prep work. The sandwich can be assembled in minutes.

You don’t need a special panini press. Simply place the sandwich in a skillet and press it down with a lid that will fit inside the skillet. Continue to press until the panini is cooked. Or, place another skillet over the panini to press it down and add a large can or other weight on top.

Ciabatta bread is the typical bread used for a panini. It’s an Italian bread shaped like a slipper and takes its name from ciabatta, the Italian word for slipper. It’s long, wide and a little flat and perfect for sandwiches. You can use a large baguette, Italian sub roll or focaccia.

Helpful Hints

▪ Shredded sharp cheddar cheese, Monterey jack cheese or a stronger cheese such as gorgonzola can be used instead of goat cheese.

▪ Sliced ham or chicken can be used instead of turkey.

▪ Saute the paninis over medium-low heat so the insides will warm and the crust will be crisp and golden brown, not black.


▪ Assemble panini and start to cook.

▪ While sandwich cooks, assemble salad.

▪ Finish panini.

Email Linda Gassenheimer at

Smoked Turkey and Cheese Panini

1 ciabatta bread (about 8 ounces)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 pound sliced low-sodium smoked turkey breast

1/2 cup sliced, drained canned roasted red peppers

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

5 or 6 fresh basil leaves

Olive oil spray

Cut bread into 2 5-inch pieces and slice them open lengthwise. Spread olive oil on the top half and sprinkle garlic over the oil. Place turkey on the bottom half. Place roasted red pepper over the turkey. Sprinkle goat cheese over the red pepper and top with 5 or 6 basil leaves. Cover with the top half.

Heat a nonstick skillet, large enough to hold both paninis, over medium-low heat and spray with olive oil spray. Add the paninis and press down with a lid. Saute 3 minutes. Turn over and press with a lid. Saute another 3 minutes. The cheese should be melted and the crust golden. Cook a few more minutes, if needed.

Per serving: 620 calories (31 percent from fat), 21.2 g fat (8.9 g saturated, 9 g monounsaturated), 75 mg cholesterol, 42.6 g protein, 61.9 g carbohydrates 2.7 g fiber, 816 mg sodium.

Serves two.

Italian Arugula Salad

4 cups washed, ready-to-eat Italian-style salad

1 cup fresh arugula

2 tablespoons reduced-fat salad dressing

Place Italian-style salad in a bowl. Tear arugula into small pieces and add to bowl. Toss with dressing.

Per serving: 30 calories (40 percent from fat), 1.3 g fat (0.1 g saturated, 0.4 g monounsaturated), 1 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g protein, 4.2 g carbohydrates, 2.2 g fiber, 15 mg sodium.

Serves two.