The secret to the sandwiches is an overnight pressing, which melds the flavors, making these Italian-style sandwiches absolutely delicious.
Ciabatta rolls are available at several local supermarkets in bags of four or sold individually in the bakery. If you can’t find them at your supermarket, sub rolls from the bakery can be used instead.
You also can make one large sandwich with a ciabatta loaf or other rustic loaf, then slice and serve.
The rolls are cut in half horizontally and then spread with a simple pesto mayo. The next step is layering up the remaining ingredients, which include a variety of sliced meats, some cheese, veggies and prepared vinaigrette.
Each sandwich is wrapped in plastic wrap, then pressed overnight in the refrigerator between two baking sheets, weighted down by large cans. Unwrap the sandwiches and slice them in half when ready to serve.
Use my fillings as a starting point to customize your own pressed sandwiches. Other meats, vegetables and cheeses can be used in place of the fillings, and olive tapenade can be used in place of the pesto mayonnaise.
Other popular pressed sandwich combinations include: ham, cheese and caramelized onions; sliced fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves or basil pesto, a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a drizzling of balsamic vinegar (caprese salad sandwich); and drained canned tuna, hard-cooked eggs, lettuce, tomato, Nicoise olives and a drizzing of olive oil (a French sandwich called pan-bagnat).
PRESSED CIABATTA SANDWICHES
4 individual ciabatta loaves, cut in half horizontally
¼ cup prepared pesto
¼ cup regular or reduced-fat mayonnaise
¼ pound sliced provolone cheese
¼ pound sliced salami
¼ pound sliced spiced capacola ham
¼ pound sliced pepperoni
¼ pound sliced gruyere cheese
½ cup pepperoncini pepper slices, drained
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 ripe tomato, very thinly sliced
Salt, freshly ground black pepper and dried oregano, to taste
¼ cup prepared vinaigrette or Italian dressing
Combine the pesto and mayonnaise in a bowl, then spread the mixture on both sides of the cut ciabatta loaves.
Place the sliced provolone on the bottom of each loaf, followed by the salami, ham, pepperoni and gruyere.
Divide the lettuce and tomatoes among the sandwiches, sprinkle with salt, freshly ground black pepper and dried oregano and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette over the top of the seasoned tomatoes. Place the remaining bun on the top.
Wrap each loaf securely in plastic wrap. Place on a baking sheet, top side up. Place another baking sheet over the top and set in the refrigerator.
Add weights (a few large cans or smaller cans in a cast-iron skillet) and refrigerate overnight.
Unwrap sandwiches and slice in half when ready to serve.
Makes 4 sandwiches.