Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Pressed Sandwich Begs for Creativity

Like a quiche, a frittata or a pasta salad, a pressed sandwich has endless possibilities and permutations and computations out the wazoo for creative composition. And it never fails to impress. And it’s certainly not complicated; it’s pretty much an assembly job.

All you need is a variety of  deli meat (or not) and cheese, a couple condiments, a nice loaf of bread, and a brick. Thankfully, you don’t eat the brick. (That only happens at my house if I try and make bread.) I have heard this sandwich even called a brick sandwich, but since the first time I made it a few years ago from a Martha Stewart recipe, I’m sticking with Martha’s christening of it.

There really are no rules with this, just a few cautions: You need a firm loaf of bread; a fluffy loaf won’t stand up to the oil and the pressure of the weight and the ingredients. And the wetter ingredients, like a roasted pepper, need to be patted dry. Other than that, you only need to choose your weapons. Aside from your choice of main ingredients, variations could include olives, anchovies, artichokes, tapenade, pesto – you get the idea.  I'd like to try roasted eggplant.  When the sandwich is weighted down with the brick (foil-wrapped, mind you) all those flavors have no choice but to get cozy. The result is a dense, intense sandwich in which the flavors and juices meld wonderfully.

Depending on how thick or thin you slice it, the sandwich can be an appetizer or a meal. It’s great for picnics, since there’s no mayo involved. And it’s pretty easy to tote.

And if you don’t have a brick handy, a couple of heavy cans or a Dutch oven or something else heavy will do the trick.

I made this when my daughter and her boyfriend visited the other day for lunch and I’m making another when I go visit my sisters at the family cottage in a couple days. (So it won’t be a surprise Anne and Lynn!)

Pressed Sandwich

1 loaf ciabatta, or other firm bread
3 T extra virgin olive oil
8 large basil leaves or enough baby spinach to cover one loaf half
1 15-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry
8 thin slices roasted turkey
8 slices provolone cheese
8 slices turkey pastrami
8 slices salami
8 slices ham

1. Slice the ciabatta lengthwise through the center to split the loaf into halves. Pull out most of the soft insides of both halves and save for breadcrumbs.

2. Brush each half with the olive oil.

3. Arrange the basil or spinach on the bottom of the loaf. Then arrange the red peppers on top. Top the peppers with the turkey, then half of the provolone cheese, the pastrami, the ham, the salami, then the remaining cheese.

4. Top the sandwich with the other half of the bread, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Set the sandwich on a large platter or plate, then carefully a foil wrapped brick (or other weight) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

5. When ready to serve, unwrap the sandwich and cut crosswise into slices.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


  1. This sounds like perfect picnic fare...or a great lunch for work! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh WOW! I love the filling. Perfect! I will be going to make my own a sandwich like that, Thanks for sharing

  3. My husband would love this. Your crack about your bread tasting like brick cracked me up, too funny! :-)

  4. Guess you could cram a lot in a little pressed sandwich! This looks good. I have to try it sometime.

  5. An awesome sandwich, I love all the cold cuts in it!

  6. I will be going to make my own a sandwich like that, thanx for posting.

  7. This looks good. Guess you could cram a lot in a little pressed sandwich! I have to try it sometime.

  8. Make my own version of this, saw some of Martha's but my people are more ranch oriented so after I take the loose bread out I put a mixture of chream cheese, ranch dry mix and mayo, spread it on thick, do the cold cuts and cheese ( use variety) add some thinly sliced red onion and have served it to class reunions, kids, cousins, you name it. All love it.
    Took some in a roaster pan for church pot luck and someone mistakenly put it in the oven, was even good warm. Press it, yes yes yes.


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