Pepperoni Panini

It’s funny how in the last month, Pinterest has captured the attention of reporters, who have analyzed and unpacked it from all different angles. Funny in part because the people I know went through the angst and the confusion about the visual social media network (or whatever you want to call it) many moons ago, back when we joined in August.

It’s not that I’m a super techie early adopter types. It’s just that Pinterest and I had a bunch of mutual friends. Sarah, one of my best friends from high school, blogs over at the beautiful Chevrons and Stripes. She stays up to date on what the designer blog world is doing, and it is design bloggers who were the site’s designated “super pinners,” the ones who were early adopters and who set the aesthetic for the site. Pinterest, for those who don’t know, is a bookmarking app that lets you “pin” any visual element from any page anywhere on the web to one of your own customized bulletin boards, which you then share with followers. It seems to me that app could have developed in any number of different ways, if you just thought in terms of the technology. But right at the beginning, the site invited a bunch of design types to pin away, and their love for white interiors, exposed wood, and glittery shoes set the clean, pretty tone.

I plugged into the late adopters’ critiques and questioning a couple weeks ago through Slate’s Double X Gabfest (which I listen to thanks to my mom’s recommendation; but really, it’s excellent cooking entertainment if you’re into podcasts). The Slate podcasters wondered if there was something troublingly “normative” about Pinterest, as though all of us pinners had swallowed the contents of Lucky and Glamour and Martha Stewart Weddings and were regurgitating them via our pins.

I laughed to myself as I washed the dishes (the perfect time for listening). Because the Slate Double Xers clearly had not involved themselves on the food boards on Pinterest, which have become a place for non-normative inspiration, and for us to share our favorite foods from around the web.

All of this is just a long-winded way of getting back to grilled cheese, my favorite culinary topic. In case you’ve gotten bored of all my grilled cheese yapping, I’ve renamed today’s recipe a panini, just to mix things up.

A couple of months ago I started a grilled cheese “pinboard.” On it, I began collecting inspired combinations of bread and cheese from around the web. I discovered blogs devoted to panini and grilled cheese making and stretched the definition to include open-faced sandwiches, quesadillas, and even fondue. Kevin of Closet Cooking became kind of an idol for his inspired, totally decadent takes on grilled cheese. The more I pinned, the more I was amazed and amused by the vast array of dishes that came out of a single constraint: take some bread and melt some cheese on it.

That brings me to today’s: a pizza-ish combination turned into grilled cheese via the use of fresh focaccia and pepperoni. It’s a good one–pin-worthy, even!

What’s your favorite bread-and-cheese combination?



Pepperoni Panini
Serves 1; easily doubled

This sandwich comes out best with supermarket mozzarella, like Polly-O or deli-sliced, rather than the fresh stuff, which can make the sandwich watery.

1 4 or 5-inch square piece focaccia, sliced in half vertically to make a top slice and a bottom slice
3 tablespoons good tomato sauce
2 slices low-moisture mozzarella (about 2 ounces)
8 thin slices pepperoni
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan
1 teaspoon butter

Spread the bottom half of the focaccia with the tomato sauce. Top with one slice of cheese. Arrange the pepperoni in one, overlapping layer. Top with the second slice of cheese. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top and press it down so it sticks.

Melt the butter in a small nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Carefully transfer the sandwich to the pan, being sure not to lose any filling. If you have a panini weight (I have this Lodge one), use it to press the sandwich down. Otherwise, use another clean frying pan as a weight. Cook the sandwich for 5-7 minutes, lowering the heat if the bread is getting too dark. Remove the weight, lift the panini up with a spatula, add the second teaspoon of butter, flip the panini, and place it back down. Weight it again and cook another 4-5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden.

Cut in half and eat immediately.


  1. I have been very curious about pinterest lately as it has become more and more popular. I can see that a lot of my content has made it over to pinterest, so I am on the waitlist to join. I can’t wait to see what it’s all about!

  2. This is one of the first things I ever learned to cook when I was in 8th grade or so! I liked pizza in any way I could get it. Not much has changed, really.

  3. This kind of reminds me of the sandwich we saw in Little Italy. I love the idea of using focaccia as bread with all the fixings inside! Can’t wait to try. I think I better go make some focaccia right now  

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