This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Italian Trade Commission / The Extraordinary Italian Taste. All opinions are 100% mine.
These Italian Prosciutto Panini start with a classic Tuscan bread called schiacciata. Add in some Prosciutto di Parma PDO, marinated artichokes and Pecorino Romano PDO, and you’ve got a delicious sandwich!
Years ago, Laura and I briefly entertained the idea of opening a sandwich cafe. Over the years, we’ve talked about how it would be a fun adventure, but we’ve chosen to go other directions…at least for now. Let me set the stage here, though. We were in Italy on our honeymoon, and we were spending a couple of nights on the island of Capri. If you’ve never been to Capri, then put it on your bucket list. Seriously! It’s one of the most stunning places I’ve ever visited, and we definitely have plans to go back.
It was around lunchtime, and Laura and I were getting a bit hungry. We were craving a good sandwich, and we found a small grocery store with a deli counter in the back. A chalkboard menu behind the counter advertised 2-3 different sandwich options. That’s it. Nothing crazy at all. Just a few simple ingredients…but the key was that the ingredients were all top quality. We enjoyed those sandwiches while sitting on a bench overlooking the stunningly blue water of the Gulf of Naples. The gorgeous setting plus the incredibly delicious sandwiches made for one memorable lunch.
Fast forward 7 years, and Laura and I found ourselves back in Italy earlier this year. Our itinerary this time didn’t include Capri, but that didn’t stop us from finding the most epic sandwich shop of all time! Located in the shadows of the Galleria dell’Accademia (home to Michelangelo’s David) in Florence is a small sandwich shop called All’Antico Vinaio. When traveling, we typically avoid restaurants located near tourist attractions. Instead, we wander a few blocks off on the side streets and look for the places where the locals eat. But All’Antico Vinaio is different. It’s currently the #3 most reviewed restaurant in the world on TripAdvisor. Yes, the world! We knew we had to see what the fuss was about.
Calling All’Antico Vinaio a sandwich shop is a bit of a misnomer. It’s really just a window, and the lines form down the street. Long lines. Really long lines. But the lines move quickly, and the wait is worth it! The sandwiches reminded me of the ones we ate in Capri. Simple, but using the best ingredients possible. Oh, and these sandwiches were as big as our face. Seriously!
We each ordered a sandwich, and I’m proud to say that I finished mine. I had to take a small break, but I did it. When you’re talking about that kind of deliciousness, I can’t help but finish it!
Italian Prosciutto Panini
Inspired by those sandwiches and our trip to Florence, I decided to come back and try my head at making a homemade version. After some research, I learned that the type of bread is called Schiacciata, or Tuscan flat bread. It reminds me of a very thin focaccia-style bread, and you simply slice it in half to create the bread for your sandwich. From there, you just tap into your inner creativity and create a delicious sandwich using authentic Italian ingredients.
Fortunately for us, it’s becoming much easier to find authentic Italian ingredients here in the United States. For these Italian Prosciutto Panini, I stopped by a local store here in town and picked up some Prosciutto di Parma PDO, Pecorino Romano PDO and marinated artichokes. Prosciutto di Parma PDO and Pecorino Romano PDO are both designated with PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). As I mentioned in the post earlier this week for Tuscan White Beans, PDO is a set of laws that protect foods produced in certain regions.
When shopping for Italian ingredients, I always look for the PDO stamp or label. That label is proof that the item was produced in the specified region in Italy. For instance, Prosciutto di Parma PDO is produced according to exact specifications in the Italian province of Parma. (Parma is where Parmesan cheese gets its name, too.) And the Pecorino Romano PDO must be produced from pasture-grazing herds of sheep raised in the wild, and the cheese must be produced in Lazio, Sardinia, Tuscany or the province of Grosseto in Tuscany. That PDO symbol is how you know it’s an authentic Italian ingredient!
When creating simple recipes like these Italian Prosciutto Panini, it’s important to use top quality ingredients. I made sure to ask about the PDO designation at the deli counter, and I looked for that PDO stamp on the wedge of cheese. Click here to discover more about DOP labels and a whole variety of authentic Italian ingredients!
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