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Vegetarian or Vegan, this sandwich is easy to make, feeds a small crowd and packs up for lunches, picnics or tailgating with ease | Italian Pressed Sandwich | Vanilla And Bean

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)
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword Italian Pressed Sandwich, Sandwich, Vegetarian Sandwich Recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 245kcal
Author Traci York | Vanilla And Bean


  • 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


To Prep:

  • 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 pat the peppers with a tea towel or paper towel to dry them off. 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.

To Assemble:

  • 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 or overnight.
  • 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. Be aware they do contain added salt. If using prepared ingredients,  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 (and salt) 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! Knowing the temperature of your oven is important for the best outcome, especially when it comes to baking. 
Recipe inspired by Veganomicon.


Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 427mg | Potassium: 411mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2301IU | Vitamin C: 72mg | Calcium: 107mg | Iron: 1mg