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Center Stage: Waffle Panini with Southern Plate

Christy Jordan is the south’s favorite foodie and owner and writer of SouthernPlate.com. She is the author of Come Home to Supper and Southern Plate. You can find the family at SouthernPlate.com, the Southern Plate Family Facebook Page, Front Porch Forums, on Twitter or you can subscribe by email.

We used to have a little Italian restaurant near our house that made the most amazing panini! My husband and I picked one up to split as a treat from time to time. I often remarked about how easy it would be to duplicate at home but didn’t become motivated to do so until they went out of business and we found ourselves longing for our favorite savory sandwich.

The Italian panini is a delicious blend of flavors, brought together with melted provolone cheese and set off by fresh tomatoes and the bright flavor of pesto sauce. The trick to helping it all come together is to keep your layers as thin as possible. Slice those tomatoes super thin and add only one layer of cheese. Once pressed into a panini and toasted golden, the flavors are maximized in each bite!

I don’t have a panini maker and I’m a big believer that in order for something to take up precious space in my kitchen it needs to be able to serve multiple uses, so my Hamilton Beach waffle iron began to lead a double life. Waffle iron by morning, panini maker by day! Unlike waffle makers in the past, my Hamilton Beach one has removable dishwasher-safe grids, which makes it perfect for panini that are known to have “cheese overflow” at times. We set out our ingredients and have a big family panini bar for lunch on Saturdays. Once everyone is done, I just let it cool down, remove the grids (by clicking a single button for each) and put them in the sink or dishwasher. Lunch is made and cleanup is done!

The Italian Panini

Yield: Serves 1
Author: Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen


  • 1 deli slice smoked ham
  • 1 deli slice pastrami
  • 6 small slices pepperoni, spread out (or 1-2 large slices)
  • 1 slice provolone
  • 1 tablespoon basil pesto
  • 2 thin slices of tomato
  • 1 Ciabatta roll, sliced, or other bread of your choice


  1. Preheat waffle maker.
  2. Layer each ingredient onto sandwich, spreading out the pepperoni and tomatoes to allow the sandwich to be as thin as possible.
  3. Spray waffle maker grids with nonstick cooking spray and place sandwich inside. Press down to close and turn waffle maker as directed to lock in place.
  4. Allow to cook until crispy and golden, about five minutes. Carefully remove from waffle maker with a spatula.

Make your waffle just the way you want it – lighter or darker – in just minutes. Designed for the thickest batter and most complex waffle, the Hamilton Beach® Flip Belgian Waffle Maker has Belgian-style grids with deep pockets to hold plenty of toppings. Even better, the nonstick grids are removable to go in the dishwasher for easy cleanup afterwards.

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