A fabulous, on the go sandwich for tailgating, picnicking, lunch or party. Italian Pressed Sandwich is easy to make and feeds a small crowd! | vegetarian or vegan
While my Ma was here, she convinced me that we needed to go see a movie. I enjoy movies but generally prefer to watch at home rather than in a theater. I usually seem to get in front of someone who is constantly digging in a bag or unwrapping candy. If not that, then crunching popcorn or slurping soda. It happens every time, so it seems anyway.
We went to see A Walk in the Woods.
Have you seen it?
I read the book by Bill Bryson years ago, and am a bit skeptical with a book turned movie because I typically like the book much better. But I thought I’d give this one a go. After-all, my Ma recommended it, the cast was brilliant and I hadn’t seen Nick Nolte or Robert Redford in forever.
Needless to say, we laughed ourselves silly.
And no one sat behind me crunching popcorn. Hooray!
I will say, though, I enjoyed the book more-so. But even still, I loved laughing with my Ma and Rob over some hilarious scenes. I think I’ll read the book again.
And this sandwich would be one that I would enjoy while reading a book, taking a walk in the woods or picnicking.
I discovered pressed sandwiches years ago and have played with ingredients, bread types and ingredient variations ever since. They are versatile in that they pack easy and feed a small crowd.
Thing is, you don’t need a panini press to make this. It’s a cold sandwich, snugly wrapped in plastic wrap then placed in the fridge and weighed down with something heavy like box wine, or a cast iron skillet. It needs to rest for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. Flavor improves with resting.
This Italian Pressed Sandwich is packed with roasted eggplant, red bell pepper, garlic, a sturdy green of your choosing, artichoke hearts and a mouth-watering Olive Tapenade. Add smoked provolone, or not.
The bread? I use a rustic sourdough potato loaf, but ciabatta is a sturdy bread that’ll hold up to the weight of these ingredients too.
For a make ahead, feeds a small crowd, veggie and flavor packed, take with you anywhere sandwich, this is it, y’all.
Oh and if you’re on Pinterest, I have a board dedicated to vegetarian and vegan sandwiches with drool-worthy pins from fabulous bloggers that link directly to the recipe. I hope you’ll join me there!
Italian Pressed Sandwich
A fabulous, on the go sandwich for tailgating, picnicking, lunch or party. It's easy to make and feeds a small crowd! vegetarian or vegan (be sure to read notes on pre-packaged ingredients)
- 1 Head of Garlic large
- 13 oz Red Bell Peppers about two medium* (See note), 368g
- 1 lb Eggplant 454g
- 2 C Olive Tapenade * 462g, See Notes, I use homemade
- 1 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 lb Loaf of Ciabatta or Rustic Sourdough Loaf (454g),
- 3 Tbs Pickled Banana Peppers or pepperoncini
- 1 C Canned Artichokes halved, rinsed, drained and any tough leaves removed, 234g
- 2 Leaves of Swiss Chard or a few hand-fulls of another sturdy leafy green such as spinach.
- 3 Slices of Smoked Provolone optional
- Sea Salt
- Ground Black Pepper
- 2-3 Tbs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil as needed divided
Preheat oven to 450F (232C). Set oven rack in center of the oven. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Cut the top end (not the root) off of the garlic head, exposing the tops of each garlic clove. Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil over the cloves and wrap loosely in foil. Set it on the parchment lined pan. Slice the bell peppers in half, deseed and lay flat, flesh side down, on the parchment lined sheet pan. It's okay to press on them a bit. Set the timer for 20 minutes and roast the peppers and garlic. As the peppers roast, the skin will start to char. This is what we want so that the skins release easily. Keep an eye on this however, as oven temperatures vary (see note on oven thermometers).
While the peppers and garlic are roasting, trim the stem of the eggplant. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into at least 6, 1/4" (2 1/2cm) pieces. Sprinkle each side with a pinch of sea salt and place in a colander to drain for 15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Spread each side with a about 1/4 tsp olive oil. Place the eggplant on the same sheet pan as the peppers are roasting on and roast for 20 minutes. Now is a good time to check on the peppers. The tops should be charring and the flesh should be getting soft. The peppers, garlic and eggplant should come out of the oven at the same time. (Peppers and Garlic roasts for about 40 min. total, eggplant roasts for 20 minutes)
Place peppers in a lidded container for 20 minutes. This will make the skin release with ease. Peel pepper skin and set peppers aside. Peel the garlic then mash the cloves until a paste forms. Set aside.
Mix the tapenade with red wine vinegar, set aside.
Slice the bread lengthwise with a serrated knife. Dig out the inside of the bread on both sides. Try to leave enough crust as to keep the sandwich sturdy. Save the bread dug out and make croutons or bread crumbs with it. Optional - brush on a bit of olive oil, no more than 1 Tbs., on the insides of the bread. Be careful here, the bread can get soggy.. so only this if you love a bit more olive oil (I brush it on mine).
Spread the garlic on both sides of the bread. It will be thin. Spread the tapenade on both sides of the bread. Yes, all of it. Press as you spread.
On the bottom side of bread, layer in the following order: 3 slices of eggplant, artichoke, bell pepper, 3 slices of eggplant, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, pepperoncini, chard or spinach and optional cheese. Place top on sandwich and gently press down.
Tightly wrap the sandwich three times to ensure nothing leaks out and place it in the fridge. Place a heavy object on top of the sandwich, such as cast iron skillet, or box of wine. Let marinate and press for at least 3 hours. Overnight is better.
Cut into 2" wide pieces and then cut in 1/2 for a smaller sandwich. I yield 5, 2" wide (5cm) pieces, but cut the center cuts in half to make smaller sandwiches. Cut to your needs.
Although a fresh sandwich is best, rewrap any remaining pieces tightly in plastic wrap and store for up to two days (the bread will get soggy as it sets).
*To save a bit of time, purchase pre-roasted bell peppers and prepared olive tapenade. Drain the peppers well and pat dry prior to putting them on the sandwich. Also, if using a different recipe of olive tapenade (other than the one linked to above), it may have more oil in it and this will affect the outcome of the sandwich by adding too much oil resulting in a soggy loaf. Be sure to drain some of the olive oil off the tapenade prior to spreading it on the sandwich.
I enthusiastically recommend an oven thermometer! I’ve baked in commercial bakery and home ovens, old, lightly used and brand new ovens – they all have their own personalities with temperature variations and fluctuations. Knowing the temperature of your oven is important for the best outcome, especially when it comes to baking. I keep a close eye on my oven thermometers (I use two just to be sure) when testing/making recipes for the blog so that I am as accurate as possible with including the proper baking temperatures in my recipes.
Recipe inspired by Veganomicon.
Thank you for reading! If you make this recipe, be sure to post it to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter notify me @vanillaandbean and tag #vanillaandbean! I’d love to see what you’ve made! Follow me on Pinterest, too, for even more deliciousness!