Base recipe here: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/pressed-italian-sandwiches
The conditions were prefect the first time I had this sandwich. It was early in the evening on the Amalfi Coast of Italy on a balcony overlooking the sea. We met friends of ours there, both parties had long travel days prior, us from Oakland California (via plane, cab, fast sleep in Rome, train, smaller train, the smallest train, a million steps up and up and up). And them, from Zurich, Switzerland. They had a slightly shorter trip, and it didn't involve a plane ride, and my friend is a planner and a fantastic cook.
She made this glorious, travels-well, tastes better a few hours later, sandwich for all of us.
I don't remember the exact recipe she made that night. But that's one of the recipe's best features, it is simple and very adaptable. The key is using ingredients you like, and then, giving them a little time to infuse the bread with flavor, and a bit of weight to press it all into a bite-able sandwich.
I've made this for parties, picnics, road trips. It has come along with us to wine tastings and apple picking outings.
1/2 - 3/4 lb sliced Italian charcuterie (my favorite combo is mortadella and Finocchiona)
8 oz (302 g) mozzarella (fresh is fine but you don't want it too wet)
Sun-dried tomato slices or fresh tomato, sliced and left for a few minutes to sweat out some juice (don't add it to the sandwich)
Good olive oil
Salt + Pepper
If your bread is tall, gently pull out some of the interior. (Then, treat yourself, chef-style. Those pulled pieces of bread middle are so good with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.)
On one side of the bread, spread pesto in a generous layer. (You could substitute olive tapenade.) On the other side, also with a generous hand, pour ribbons of olive oil and vinegar. Lightly salt and pepper over the olive oil and vinegar.
Then, add your layers to the bottom half (unlike what I did in the photo which made flipping one side on top of the other, tricky). I like to layer like so: cheese, a little sprinkle of salt and pepper, tomato, charcuterie, basil.
Place the top piece of bread on your piled sandwich. Wrap the entire thing in foil.
Put in the fridge and add some weight to the top. You could do this by finding a cookie sheet and places some cans of food on top. Or, if your fridge is like mine, just grab some glass food storage containers.
Let it hang out with the weights for at least an hour, or overnight.
Slice and serve straight from the fridge, or slice and rewrap in the foil and serve elsewhere. The trick is to slice it with a good knife, so if you're not bringing one with you, slice before going. This sandwich doesn't tear well.
1. Start with good bread. You want something that has enough oomph in the crust without being a chore to bite into. And, you want the inside to be chewy. Think ciabatta.
2. The list of ingredients here is completely adaptable! I've made this sandwich recipe a myriad of different ways. There's been olive tapenade, capers, roasted bell peppers, grilled zucchini, and grilled eggplant. It has been made with cheese and without.
3. Depending on the height of your bread, you might first need to pull out some chewy center business before loading on the toppings. It helps to make sure the final pressed Italian sandwich is something you can actually get your teeth around.