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No panini press? No problem, according to Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis. Her easy-to-make panini recipe comes together perfectly without the need for a press.

Here’s how she makes the magic happen in this flavorful yet uncomplicated Ham, Cheese, and Apple Panini.

Food Network chef Giada De Laurentiis wears a long-sleeved black blouse as she prepares a meal for 'Today.'
Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis | Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

De Laurentiis’ panini recipe needs just 7 ingredients

On her lifestyle and food blog Giadzy, De Laurentiis noted that a panini party is a fun way to entertain by having guests choose their own filling, spreads, and of course, bread.

For the host, it’s all about “setting out an assortment of breads and toppings and allowing guests to customize their perfect panini. ….” All you have to do is “man the panini-press for them to keep it easy on your company, and they’ll be ecstatic to eat their cheesy, hot-pressed sandwich that they came up with themselves!”

The Simply Giada star’s ham-and-cheese panini requires no gourmet ingredients, making it a great selection for a sandwich party.

This amped-up version of the classic deli sandwich calls just for unsalted butter, sliced Granny Smith apples (De Laurentiis suggests peeling the apples), fresh thyme leaves, white bread, whole-grain mustard, shredded Gruyere cheese, and Black Forest ham.

Giadzy tweeted of the recipe, “Apples + gruyere + ham + mustard = one VERY good panini.”

You can find the full recipe and reviews on Food Network’s site.

How De Laurentiis gets this panini done without a press

The chef wrote on Giadzy of the beauty of this sandwich. The basic ham and cheese is taken to another level with slices of tart Granny Smith apple and a schmear of robust, grainy mustard.

“This panini doesn’t call for too many ingredients, but each one packs a big punch of flavor,” she explained. “This is one of my favorite combinations, especially for fall: ham, gruyere cheese, apples, and a great quality mustard. It hits every note of salty, sweet, savory, and tart. The thyme brings everything together in a really lovely way.”

De Laurentiis added that it’s great on a panini press. But if home cooks don’t have one, there’s another way to turn this sandwich into a gooey, crusty, cheesy hot sandwich: “simply use a grill pan or cast iron, and use a spatula or a plate to press it down while cooking!”


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De Laurentiis’ panini is comfort food made simple

Reviewers agreed with the chef: this is a sandwich (really, just about any panini recipe is as well) that can be transformed without an appliance.

“These paninis were very simple and delicious! I didn’t have a panini press so I made them ‘grilled cheese’ style in a pan. They were so good I will make them again and again,” said one home cook.

Another reviewer warned other home cooks to be sure and make extra: “Made this recipe almost exactly as written – Gala apple, no panini press – and it was so delicious. Either make a huge sandwich or make two per person because you’ll want more.”