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Pressed Italian Sandwiches

In a lunchtime lurch? Tired of turkey on toast? Ready to bid buh bye to bologna on bread? Well have I got a sandwich for you!! This Pressed Italian Sando is here to save you from midday monotony. I love this sandwich for so many reasons. It’s make ahead, the ingredients are adaptable, it’s easily doubled to feed a crowd, and most importantly, it’s absolutely delicious!! Also, there is zero cooking involved here- it’s all about selecting quality ingredients, assembling, and then “pressing” overnight (or at least 8 hrs) in the fridge. After arranging all the ingredients onto a loaf of crusty ciabatta (tear a little of the filling out to make room for all those layers), the sandwich gets wrapped tightly in plastic and then evenly weighted with something heavy as it chills- this is where the magic happens! I like to use a cast iron skillet or pot set on top of an inverted baking sheet to apply even pressure. A cast iron griddle, if you own one, is even better. As the sandwich presses, the flavors meld and the ingredients get compacted. When you slice it open the next day, you get gorgeous gourmet strata that won’t fall apart.

I like to use a combination of smoked turkey, mild salami and hot sopressata, but feel free to swap in other deli meats if you prefer: thin sliced prosciutto, mortadella, coppa, ham, etc. all would be delicious. You can also have fun with the other ingredients- if you’re not a tapenade fan, try extra pesto. Artichoke hearts or additional pickles would be tasty too! Just make sure that you drain anything packed in liquid/brine really well before you add it to the sandwich-otherwise you risk sogginess. This recipe makes for the best ever picnic/travel option. Whether you’re on a beach, boat, or hike, this would be the perfect take along meal- just wrap the sliced sandwiches in plastic and again in foil before popping them in a cooler or picnic basket. So much more interesting and delicious than a generic brown bag PBJ! You could even serve this as a fun summer appetizer if you slice into smaller squares, stick a toothpick in top of each, and arrange on a platter. Enjoy!


prep time: ~15 min. cook time: ~24 hrs. (includes overnight press and chill)

serves: 6


1 loaf ciabatta or other long/wide crusty white bread, cut in half lengthwise with a serrated knife

1/4 cup store bought or homemade pesto

1/4 cup jarred olive tapenade

1/2 cup roasted red peppers from a jar, drained well and chopped

1/2 cup pepperoncini rings, drained well

12 oz assorted thin sliced deli meats: f.e. hot or mild salami, smoked turkey, hot or mild sopressata, prosciutto, mortadella, ham, coppa etc. (pick 3, 4 oz of each)

1/2 lb thin sliced fresh mozzarella

2 cups arugula

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

kosher salt


plastic wrap, baking sheets, cast iron skillet, griddle or heavy pot


INSTRUCTIONS Tear some of the center out of the bread and discard or save for bread crumbs. Spread one side with the pesto and the other with the tapenade. Start by layering the meats down the length of one half of ciabatta. Next, top the meats evenly with the roasted red peppers and pepperoncini. Then, add the mozzarella cheese in an even layer and season lightly with salt. Top with the arugula, drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic, and season with a pinch more salt. Put the other half of ciabatta on top and press down firmly. Wrap the loaf tightly in plastic and place on a sheet pan. Put another sheet pan upside down on top and weight it with something heavy, like a cast iron skillet, griddle or heavy pot. Let the sandwich sit to press and chill overnight in the fridge. Slice crosswise into 6 even pieces and serve. *To take on a picnic, wrap each sandwich in tightly plastic and again in foil and pop in a cooler or picnic basket.

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