A delicious pressed sandwich full of meat, cheese, and marinated vegetables
Our mother has a complicated relationship with sandwiches. She made sure we always had some mortadella in the house. This is our dad’s favourite deli meat and he would often take a mortadella sandwich with him to work. On days of family outings, our mother would pack sandwiches filled with feta cheese and sliced tomatoes. A day of horta-picking would include a picnic lunch of sandwiches to make sure we had the energy to keep pulling weeds. Our mother appreciates the ease and versatility of sandwiches.
At the same time, according to our mother, sandwiches aren’t for everyone. When our girls were little, phone calls from their yiayia always included the standard question, What did you eat today?. If the answer was a sandwich, she was scandalized. Sandwiches, our mother reminded us, are not food, and her granddaughters were meant to be eating things like hilopites and manestra and yiouvetsi. She was barely off the phone before our father would be at our door, a cooked and still warm pastitsio to the rescue.
Whether you believe that a standard sandwich can make a meal or not, one thing is for certain- a pressed sandwich such as this one is not only a meal, but a hearty meal! Filled with a variety of deli meats, several cheeses, marinated vegetables and more, our pressed sandwich is so satisfying that even our mother would agree that it’s perfect for everyone!
What is a pressed sandwich?
A pressed sandwich is made with a bread loaf or baguette that is sliced in half and loaded with all sorts of great ingredients. The sandwich is then tightly wrapped and kept in the refrigerator pressed by a heavy object; this helps the flavours blend together. Pressed sandwiches are best made the day before they are to be served.
How to make a pressed sandwich.
Our recipe includes the ingredients that we used to make our pressed sandwich but you can feel free to use this only as a guide. If you prefer havarti cheese over cheddar, use that. If you would rather use smoked turkey than smoked ham, do that. Hate olives? Omit them. Love heat? Add more hot peppers. Your baguette really is your canvas….and speaking of baguette…
Bread for pressed sandwiches
You can use any loaf of bread you like for a pressed sandwich actually. Just be sure to select something with a firm crust and a dense crumb. A French-style baguette is the perfect texture. Another thing to keep in mind is size; because you will have to press your baguette and keep it in the fridge, select a bread which will easily fit into your refrigerator.
Regardless of the loaf that you choose, you will remove part of the crumb so that you end up with hollowed out areas that you can use to pack with your ingredients.
How to press your sandwich
Wrap your sandwich tightly with wax paper or parchment paper and then with aluminum foil. Place in the refrigerator and top with something heavy, like a baking pan. Be sure to press the entire length of the bread.
How to prevent your pressed sandwich from getting soggy.
A soggy sandwich is a very bad thing, and pressed sandwiches have the potential for sogginess given how loaded they are with ingredients. There are a few ways to prevent soggy bread syndrome:
- Remove the excess crumb from the inside of the bread
- Brush the cut side of each half of the bread with a barrier of olive oil, pesto, or even butter
- Pat your marinated vegetables dry with paper towels
- Place your marinated vegetables between layers of cheese and deli meat
More amazing sandwich ideas:
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- Electric knife, optional
- parchment paper and aluminum foil to wrap baguette
- 1 baguette
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) pesto
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
- 1 pound assorted deli meats We used a combination of cooked turkey, roast beef, smoked ham and spicy salami
- 6 slices aged cheddar cheese See Recipe Note
- 6 slices gouda cheese
- 6 slices edam cheese
- 1 roasted red pepper patted dry and cut into strips
- ½ cup marinated artichoke hearts patted dry and cut into pieces
- ¼ cup sliced Kalamata olives
- ¼ cup sliced red onion
- 2 tbsp sliced hot peppers
- 3-4 cups arugula
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) Italian salad dressing
- Using the electric knife if you have one, cut the baguette lengthwise. If you don't have an electric knife, use a serrated bread knife. Cut your bread carefully as you want both halves to be even.
- Using your hands, carefully tear out the center crumb of your bread (both halves). You don't want to tear out all the crumb but enough to leave a hollowed out section in the center of both halves.
- To begin assembling your sandwich, place the bottom half of your baguette, cut side up, in front of you, drizzle the olive oil over the cut side. Brush to spread the oil everywhere. Layer half of your deli meat over the olive oil, tucking some of the meat into the hollow that you made when scooping out the crumb.
- On top of the meat arrange the roasted red pepper strips, the marinated artichoke, the red onion, the hot pepper and the olives.
- Add one layer of cheese, being mindful to completely cover the marinated vegetables.
- Continue to assemble your sandwich by adding on the rest of the deli meat and then the rest of the cheese.
- Next, take the top half of your baguette and spread the pesto over the cut side. Add the arugula to the scooped out hollow of that half and then drizzle with Italian salad dressing. Carefully place the top half of your sandwich over your bottom half and press down.
- Wrap your baguette carefully with parchment paper or wax paper and then wrap it again tightly with aluminum foil. Transfer to the refrigerator and press down on your sandwich with something heavy. (See Recipe Note)
- Press your sandwich for a minimum of 12 hours. We like to place a baking tray on top of the sandwich and weigh it down with something like cans or jars. When ready to serve, carefully unwrap your sandwich and cut it into serving sizes that you prefer. An electric knife works really well here too.