Picnic Time: Italian Panini

Italian Panini by A Little Yumminess

Summer is here and in most places it is the perfect time to get out have a picnic.  The weather is not quite as agreeable in San Francisco during summer – so either we brave the fog and picnic anyway (because we are tough people who are used to cold summers) or we head a short distance outside the city to better climes for our picnic.  However, don’t let the harsh SF weather mean no picnicking for your family.  Some of my fondest memories from childhood revolve around picnicking and the idea of eating a packed lunch outside still brings a big smile to my face.

Though I have learned over the years that picnics on the beach are generally a bad idea, no matter how glorious it sounds.  Sand in sandwich is not such a good idea.  Get your kids to help with the packing of the picnic and think about what you could need.  You will invariably forget something – that’s a given and part of the fun.  The outdoors are beckoning and what better way to enjoy them then to share a meal outside.  The next few posts are going to feature some international sandwich recipes that you can make with your kids before you head out for some fun.

Italy: Smoked Mozzarella and Broccoli

A slim Italian panini is a particularly good choice when picnicking with kids because it holds together beautifully in the hands of wee ones prone to losing their sandwich fillings. This version stays true to classic, minimalist panini tradition, combining only a few simple elements.

  •  Large ciabatta roll
  • 3-4 broccoli florets
  • 4 ounces smoked mozzarella (or substitute fontina)
  • Sprinkle of balsamic vinegar (optional)


  1. Blanch broccoli in boiling water for 3-4 minutes until it’s tender crisp, then immediately transfer it to a bowl of ice water to stop further cooking. When the broccoli is cool enough to handle, slice or break the broccoli florets into small, bite-sized pieces.
  2. Layer broccoli and smoked mozzarella on the sliced ciabatta roll and grill using a panini press.

If you don’t have a panini press, you can achieve a similar effect by grilling your sandwich using a standard waffle iron (not the Belgian-style) or simply grilling it in a pan on the stove top, pressing the sandwich by placing another pan on top as it grills.

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