It’s easy to turn ordinary deli roast beef sandwiches into a delicious, easy dinner by switching classic toppings like lettuce and tomatoes for more flavorful options, adding a tangy spread, and toasting the rolls to golden perfection.
Here are the key ingredients you’ll need to make our roast beef panini along with any recommendations we may have. The complete ingredient list along with quantities can be found in the full, printable version of the recipe below.
- Roast beef: Thin-sliced, rare, roast beef from the deli is the best choice for this panini. If you have it available in your area, Boar’s Head brand is a great choice. They produce a few top-round varieties including a low-sodium version for those keeping an eye on their daily sodium intake.
- Fontina cheese: Fontina is an easy-melting, cow’s milk cheese with a mild flavor that pairs perfectly with the more robust Gorgonzola in the spread.
- Fresh spinach: Spinach is a more nutritious and flavorful swap for lettuce on sandwiches. Baby spinach is more tender and consequently, our top choice for this purpose, but regular spinach is fine too. Just be sure to take a minute to pinch off the tough stems.
- Roasted red peppers: Jarred roasted red peppers add a sweet and savory quality to this sandwich along. Be sure to pat them dry first though so their packing liquid doesn’t make the rolls soggy.
- Gorgonzola cheese: Combined with mayonnaise and some fresh garlic, this tangy blue cheese makes the perfect spread to pair with roast beef.
- Torpedo rolls: Small torpedo/hoagie rolls with a slightly chewy crust are the best for this panini. They will crisp lightly on the outside and stay soft in the middle.
How to Make Roast Beef Panini
This is an overview of how this dish is made. You’ll find the complete, detailed instructions in the full, printable version of the recipe below.
- Make the Gorgonzola mayo spread by combining the mayonnaise, garlic, and crumbled cheese in a small bowl until smooth and spreadable.
- Slice the rolls in half lengthwise and spread the mayo mixture on each half.
- Arrange half the fontina slices (cut to fit) on the bottom half of each roll and top with a layer of roasted red peppers.
- Add the roast beef, a layer of spinach leaves, and the remaining fontina.
- Top with the other half of the roll on top and press down firmly.
- Heat a heavy pan over medium heat and brush the tops of the sandwiches lightly with olive oil.
- Place two of the sandwiches, top side down, in the preheated pan and weigh them down with a sandwich press (or some other method – see notes).
- Cook until the cheese has melted and the roll is lightly toasted.
- Turn the sandwiches, brush with a little more oil, weigh them down again and cook until toasted.
- Place the finished sandwiches in a low oven to keep warm and repeat the process with the remaining two.
- Cut each sandwich in half diagonally and serve immediately.
How to Make Panini Without a Press
Panini (the plural of panino) is simply the Italian word for “sandwiches,” which are commonly grill-pressed and served for lunch in Italy. You don’t really need to own any special equipment to make them because all you’re looking to achieve is a compressed interior to fuse the flavors, a toasty exterior on the bread, and nicely melted cheese. Here are some ideas for making panini without a press:
- Use a heavy pan that distributes heat evenly. Cast iron grill pans or skillets, stainless steel, or carbon steel are all good choices. Avoid nonstick.
- Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the outside of your bread or rolls with oil or melted butter. You don’t want a heavy coating as you would use on grilled cheese.
- Preheat your pan over medium heat before adding the sandwiches.
- Apply firm pressure on the sandwiches or weigh them down with a pot lid that is smaller than the diameter of the pan you’re using, an aluminum foil-covered brick, or a hand-held, cast iron grill press (see below)
- Check the sandwiches after a minute or two. The idea is to get a crisp crust on the outside of your bread or rolls and melt the cheese inside the sandwich while maintaining a tender texture on the interior of the bread.
Cast Iron Grill Presses
Lodge makes a variety of hand-held, cast iron grill presses in a variety of shapes and sizes. They’re not expensive and take up much less room than a separate electric appliance. This one measures 6-3/4″ x 4-1/2″ and is available on Amazon along with some other options.
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Roast Beef Panini with Gorgonzola Mayo
- 4 torpedo/hoagie rolls, 6-inch
- 8 slices fontina cheese
- 3/4 lb rare deli roast beef, thinly sliced
- 3 ounces fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
- 12 ounces (1 jar) roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry with paper towels
- Olive oil
For the Gorgonzola mayo
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Make the Gorgonzola mayo by combining the mayonnaise, garlic, and crumbled cheese in a small bowl until smooth and spreadable.
- Slice the rolls in half lengthwise and spread a scant tablespoon of the mayo mixture on each half of the rolls.
- Arrange 4 of the fontina slices (cut to fit) on the bottom half of each roll and arrange a layer of roasted red peppers on top.
- Top with 3 to 4 slices (about 3 ounces) of roast beef, a layer of fresh spinach leaves, and the remaining fontina.
- Place the other half of the roll on top and press down firmly.
- Heat a grill pan over medium heat and brush the tops of the sandwiches lightly with olive oil.
- Arrange two of the sandwiches, top side down, in the preheated pan and weigh them down with a sandwich press or other method (see notes). Cook until the cheese has melted and the roll is lightly toasted, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.
- Flip the sandwiches over, brush lightly with more olive oil, and weigh them down again. Cook for an additional 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.
- Place finished sandwiches in a low oven (200°F) to keep warm while you repeat the process with the remaining two.
- Cut each sandwich in half diagonally and serve immediately.