Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pressed Sandwiches

Pressed Sandwich

Pressed Sandwich

I'm watching The Iron Giant in the park with friends tonight. Right now my kitchen is in boxes, so my cooking repertoire is somewhat limited. I decided early on that if I couldn't bake, i'd just make a giant sandwich.

After some coffee and pastry in the Strip District, I bought a ciabatta, fresh mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes from Penn Mac and the Farmer's Market. Using a Martha Stewart recipe as a guide, I assembled this sandwich and weighted it down with a dutch oven and some jelly jars.

I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. It's perfect for picnics and parties. I've posted the original recipe below, but I only used it as a guideline. Here are some of my notes:

I prefer to stir in the parmesan by hand after the remaining pesto ingredients have been food-processed. The garlic can be overpowering, so err on the light side or omit it completely. Lastly, if you choose to use tomatoes, slice them thinly and place them on the thicker half of the bread to prevent the liquid from soaking through.

I'm looking forward to trying other variations!

Pressed Sandwiches
from Martha Stewart Magazine
2 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper (about 7 ounces)
1 small eggplant (about 8 ounces), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 zucchini (about 8 ounces), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 yellow summer squash (about 7 ounces), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 loaves ciabatta (each about 8 by 10 inches), halved horizontally
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto

Make the pesto: Pulse basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor until combined. With machine running, add 1/2 cup oil in a slow, steady stream. Transfer to a small airtight container, and top with remaining oil. Pesto can be refrigerated overnight.

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high. (If you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill for just 3 to 4 seconds.) Grill bell pepper, turning with tongs, until blackened all over. Place in a bag, close bag, and steam 15 minutes. Peel pepper, and discard skin.

Lightly brush both sides of eggplant, zucchini, and summer squash with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill, flipping once, until golden brown and soft, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Pull out most of the doughy center of bread, and reserve for another use (such as breadcrumbs). Brush inside of each loaf with oil. Spread pesto over bottom half of each loaf. Top one loaf bottom with grilled vegetables and half the mozzarella; top remaining loaf bottom with prosciutto and remaining mozzarella. Sandwich top and bottom of each loaf, and press firmly.

Tightly wrap each sandwich in plastic, allowing air to release before sealing. Wrap each in parchment paper, and tie with kitchen string. Place sandwiches in refrigerator, and weigh down with a heavy object (such as a Dutch oven). Refrigerate at least 2 hours (or overnight). Slice, and serve.


Christina said...

Kind of funny, the pressed sandwich. It really only works with artisan bread because if you mush regular loaf bread it just doesn't taste the same. There needs to be a higher crust-to-crumb ratio.

The way the layers of your sandwich look is very appetizing!

Julie said...

That's really beautiful! It reminds of the flag of Italy.

PaniniKathy said...

Love the layers!! I'm sure they tasted just as nice :-)

GirlCanBake said...

At first glance I couldn't tell these were sandwiches. So darling. They're prefect little treats!

Candace said...

i always find myself clicking on something on tastespotting and getting led to your blog! ;)

Brilynn said...

That looks really good!
You should try making a muffaletta sandwich next, this reminded me of one and they're awesome!

Lobster Tails said...

Love this recipe. It's a nice little twist on the classic sandwich

Indigo said...

I've never seen a pressed sandwich before; this is so cute! Love it.

R. Mansfield said...

I've created a link to this recipe in our newest "Cast Iron Around the Web" entry at

Haley said...

We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks :)