Ultimate Pressed Sandwich

To celebrate Italian sports, Fabio makes basil Pesto alla Genovese, great for making anything more Italian. He takes home the gold when he shares secrets to the ultimate Panini flat-pressed sandwich. It's a mouthful to be believed.


  • Pesto 101: Another great basic sauce. Taken from the word PESTARE (to crush), pesto comes in many variations, but Pesto alla Genovese is the ORIGINAL.

  • It's SO easy to make with a food processor. Pesto also stores easily, just remember to cover with a layer of olive oil to prevent oxidation.

  • Good on pasta, bread, pizzas, anything, even with chips and veggies as a dip.

  • Panini 101:Simple sandwiches don't need a ton of toppings if you use strong flavors!

  • In Italy, panino refers to the type of bread used (small rolls), not the pressing of the sandwich.

  • No Panini Press? Place the sandwich in a hot pan, and weigh the sandwich down with another heavy skillet. Flip after a few moments, and repeat.

Basil Pesto Panini

Recipe by Fabio Viviani

Yield: 2 sandwiches and plenty of extra pesto



1 lb. fresh basil leaves

2 cups extra virgin olive oil

1 cup pine nuts

5 cloves garlic

pinch salt

pinch black pepper

1 ½ cups Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated


1 crusty baguette

½ lb. prosciutto, sliced thin

4 oz. fresh buffalo Mozzarella cheese, sliced

8 whole soft, hydrated sun-dried tomatoes (do not use the dry ones)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling



In a food processor, mix basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper and process until just mixed but still chunky.

Add Parmesan cheese and pulse to combine. DO NOT OVER-PROCESS. Keep it chunky!

For use as a pasta sauce, add a bit more olive oil, and process longer, for a smoother consistency.

To store pesto, top with a thin layer of olive oil in sealed jars to avoid oxidation.


Meanwhile, slice the baguette in half.

Spread a nice layer of pesto on one half of the bread.

Top with prosciutto, mozzarella, and tomato.

Add the top half of the bread, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and place in Panini press.

Griddle 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is melted, and the bread is crusty and brown.


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