Pressed Picnic Sandwiches

Syndicated

These were made for a party, and I think that they were my favorite thing that we made as a whole. When I was in high school, I basically lived on sandwiches. They were much more basic than these pressed picnic sandwiches, but they were my favorite thing to eat - I would usually prefer to make myself a sandwich for dinner (or even breakfast) than have what my mom was making. I'm sure that this was frustrating beyond belief, but my mom always kept our fridge stocked with plenty of cold cuts and cheeses so that I could make my beloved sandwiches. Eventually, I started getting more creative with my sandwiches, and I still love making Kramer a sandwich to bring to work every morning. There's just something so comforting and simple about a good sandwich, don't you agree?

These pressed picnic sandwiches were inspired by a post that I saw over at The Cilantropist, which is also where I discovered my new favorite pesto recipe. I knew that I would have to plan to make at least a few items that could be thrown together relatively easily for our party, and these pressed sandwiches were the perfect thing. I used plenty of good Italian meats, like sweet sopressata and prosciutto, sliced mozzarella and provolone, fresh basil leaves, and some beautiful ciabatta bread. Pressing the sandwiches down over night allow all of the flavors in the sandwich to develop and permeate into one another, and the pesto adds just the right amount of moisture to the bread so that every bite is well balanced. I cut these into small squares so that they would be easy to eat, and they were quickly devoured by our guests. I don't think that there is anything more welcoming than a big platter of beautiful, little tea sandwiches. You can make these to enjoy indoors or out, and they travel so well that you will probably be taking them along with you at every opportunity.

I was in a bit of a rush the day that I photographed these (obviously), so there isn't an ingredient shot, sadly. But, you want to start by spreading the pesto on the ciabatta, followed by a layer of sopressata.

Followed by prosciutto, then cheese, and, if you have some leftover sopressata like I did for this particular sandwich (I made three), a little more of that (waste not, want not).

Finish it all off with a few fresh basil leaves.

Here they are, pre-pressing.

Wrap them very, very tightly in plastic wrap.

Now, you will want to put something heavy on the sandwiches while they sit in the fridge. I used 3 large books and a 10 pound hand-weight, and let them sit for 24 hours, but 3-4 hours will be just fine.

When you remove them from the plastic wrap, they will be perfectly compressed little sandwiches.

That's the stuff.

Cut the loaves into little sandwiches and enjoy!

Pressed Picnic Sandwiches

Total Prep Time: 4-24 hours, depending on how long you press the sandwiches

Yield: 9-12 sandwiches, depending on large you slice them and the size of your loaf of ciabatta

1 large loaf of ciabatta bread, sliced lengthwise
3-4 tablespoons fresh pesto
1/4 lb. sliced sweet sopressata
3-4 slices good prosciutto
3-4 slices provolone cheese
3-4 slices mozzarella cheese
6-8 basil leaves, washed and patted dry
plastic wrap, for wrapping the sandwiches

1. Slice the ciabatta bread lengthwise, so that there is a top and a bottom slice. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of fresh pesto over the bottom piece of bread. I like a lot of pesto, but don't use so much that the bread becomes soggy.

2. Top the pesto with the sopressata, then the prosciutto, then the provolone and mozzarella cheese. Top the cheese with your basil leaves, then place the top of the bread on the sandwich. Press down on the sandwiches with your hands, then very tightly wrap them in plastic wrap (seriously - do this as tight as you possible can). Place the sandwich in the fridge and top with lots of heavy books, a weighted down pot or pan, or whatever other heavy objects you can find. I used 3 very heavy books, then put a 10 pound hand-weight on top of those, and let them sit in the fridge overnight - I did mine for a full 24 hours, but even just 3-4 hours, with plenty of weight applied, will yield beautifully pressed sandwiches.

A printable recipe may be found at The Crepes of Wrath

3. When you are ready to eat, unwrap the sandwiches and use a very sharp knife to cut the sandwich into 9-12 small sandwiches, depending on how big you want them to be. I got about 12 sandwiches out of mine, but it also depends on how big your original loaf was. These will keep well after being sliced in an airtight container for up to 2 days -- we ate them as leftovers after our party and they were still absolutely delicious.

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