The Apartment Therapy Los Angeles team was coming over. It was a hot summer weeknight, and we were all heading down the street to see a friend's band play that evening. A formal dinner was out of the question and, with two of us recently laid off, we're budget-conscious about restaurant dining. Thus, the panini potluck was born.
We asked everyone to bring sandwich components – bread, cheese, meat, fruit – and we set up our electric grill in the living room. We also put out condiments like mustards and chutneys, and butter to slather on the bread before grilling.
We took turns assembling and sharing our creations, oohing and ahhing over the combinations each person came up with. Among the highlights were brie + prosciutto, brie + raspberries + grapes, and blue cheese + pear. It was casual, communal, and delicious.
For dessert, there were pressed Nutella sandwiches and grilled plums. We also sipped on chilled white wine and tarragon iced tea before heading off to the gig.
Everything was such a breeze, from set-up to clean-up, that we'll definitely be holding more weeknight panini potlucks. On weekends, we might get a little fancier and prepare pre-grilled vegetables, caramelized onions, and homemade condiments for people to add to their sandwiches. Here are a few panini ideas in The Kitchn's archives, too:
• Blogging Oprah: Giada's Chocolate and Brie Panini
• Flickr Find: Prosciutto, Arugula, and Mozzarella Panini on No-Knead Olive Bread
• Good Eats: Ham, Brie, and Apple French Toast Panini
Having a panini press or electric grill makes this especially easy, but it's also possible to make pressed sandwiches without one:
• How to Make Restaurant Style Panini Sandwiches Without a Panini Grill, from Associated Content
• How to Make Panini Without a Panini Press, from Panini Happy
Do you have any favorite pressed sandwich recipes or tips?
Related: Good Question: Best Potluck Recipes?
(Images: Gregory Han)