Pressed Italian picnic sandwiches aren’t just for picnics. Yes, they are great for summer picnics because they travel well, but they’re also amazing for lunch when you want to treat your tastebuds to an authentic taste of Italy. Make these Italian picnic sandwiches and you’re sure to love all the incredible flavours in every bite.
This Italian picnic sandwich recipe is ideal for parties, picnics, game day, BBQs, road trips, tailgating and gatherings. Boasting ham, cheese, salad veggies, and olive spread, all wrapped in ciabatta bread, this is perhaps the best picnic sandwich ever.
Why You’ll Love This
Amazing flavours: If you love all things Italian, such as ciabatta and Italian deli meats and cheeses, and of course homemade olive tapenade, you are going to love how this wrapped sandwich tastes.|
A make ahead sandwich: An Italian pressed sandwich is supposed to be pressed for hours to seal all the fillings in there, making it a great choice if you want to prepare food in advance.
Easy to tweak: You don’t have to use the ingredients which are listed in the recipe. If you prefer another type of bread, different cold cuts or deli meats, and types of cheese, or an alternative to the olive salad, you’re free to change it up.
Pressed Italian Picnic Sandwiches Ingredients
The traditional choice for the loaf of bread is ciabatta, a light, fluffy type of bread. Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, garlic, parsley and oregano add flavour on top of the sandwich, and then salami, two kinds of ham, fresh tomato, fresh basil and arugula are sandwiched between the Italian bread. Olive salad sandwich spread is also needed.
How to Make an Italian Pressed Sandwiches
For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.
Prepare the bread: Cut the loaf of bread in half across the middle and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and then plastic wrap.
Prepare the oil mixture: Shake the oil with the two types of vinegar, the garlic, some of the oregano and parsley, and some salt and pepper in a mason jar.
Add the oil mixture: Drizzle the mixture over one half of the bread (this will be the top half).
Add more fillings to the sandwich: Add basil, arugula to the bottom half of the sandwich, then olive salad and cheese to the top, before adding cold cuts and deli meats to the bottom.
Finish filling the sandwich: Add tomatoes and the remaining fresh herbs, then close the sandwich.
Press the sandwich: Once it is wrapped in plastic wrap, put something heavy on top (a cast iron skillet or other heavy objects) and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator, or for about 8 hours, before serving.
Substitutions and Variations
You can tweak this make ahead sandwich however you wish. If you want to incorporate other ingredients like artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers or roasted red pepper strips, go ahead. You can also sub fresh mozzarella or different cheeses such as provolone cheese for what’s listed in the recipe. And you can sub homemade Italian basil pesto for the olive spread.
What to Serve with an Italian Pressed Sandwich
If you’re making pressed Italian sandwiches for a picnic, you might also like to have some tasty sides, such as watermelon salad or chips with hot salsa. Other picnic foods and Italian picnic ideas to consider would be pinwheel sandwiches, individual strawberry shortcakes, antipasto skewers, and pasta salad.
Store: Keep the sandwich refrigerated and eat within two days for the best result.
Freeze: The fresh ingredients in this sandwich make it unsuitable for freezing, else the salad leaves will wilt and the bread will get soggy.
Italian Pressed Picnic Sandwich FAQs
You can use a panini press if you have one. Don’t use the heat function since you only want to press these sandwiches rather than toast them. Otherwise, a heavy skillet such as a cast iron skillet will also work to press and compact the sandwich.
These are hearty sandwiches with plenty of fillings. Not pressing them means eating them is going to be a messy experience! Pressing the sandwiches helps the bread hold all the fillings. It also compresses it so you can fit it into your mouth.
Pressed Italian Sandwiches Recipe
Pressed Italian Picnic Sandwiches
- 1 Loaf ciabatta
- 2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 Tablespoon oregano
- 2 Teaspoon garlic minced
- ½ Tablespoon parsley
- 1 Cup olive salad (see recipe) or olive tapenade
- ⅓ Pound genoa salami
- ⅓ Pound ham hot capicola
- ⅓ Pound ham proscuitto cotto or tavern ham
- ⅓ Pound provolone cheese
- 1 Tomato thinly sliced
- a handful basil leaves fresh
- 1 Cup arugula
- Slice the loaf of bread in half horizontally. Next, place the bread halves onto a few sheets of plastic wrap that are draped over a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, ½ the oregano, minced garlic, ½ the parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a mason jar and shake. Drizzle the top half of bread with oils.
- Line the bottom half with basil leaves and top with arugula.
- Spread olive salad onto the top half and top with sliced cheese.
- Add salami, ham, and Capicola over the bottom. Half.
- Next, add sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with remaining oregano and parsley and a pinch of pepper if desired.
- Close and wrap the sandwich with plastic wrap.
- Weigh down and refrigerate 8 hours preferably overnight. -use a cast iron skillet or any heavy flat item to press the sandwich.
- Remove plastic wrap, then tightly wrap with parchment paper. Slice and secure with kitchen twine.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
Pressed Italian picnic sandwiches are a picnic sandwich recipe featuring Italian meats and cheeses, salad ingredients, olive tapenade, and more, for a beautiful taste of Italy. They’re ideal for a summer picnic, as an appetizer for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or any other special occasion when you want to impress!
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Bella Bucchiotti is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for food, dogs, fitness, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.
Okay so the arugula seriously makes these so good (which may be odd because its a meat sandwich)… BUT it adds a peppery, crunchy bite. Loved these mini sandwiches. Will make again.
These sandwiches are amazing! The olive salad added such a nice bright flavor, and I love how loaded this sandwich was. Still thinking about how good it was!
Wow!!! I have never loved a sandwich more in my life. And I spent my third pregnancy obsessed and addicted to subway!!!
But had I know about these pressed sandwich…..well my poor hubby would have been making them everyday!
They were the right amount of wet to dry (if that makes sense) and the flavor was amazing!!
I added some artichoke and strips of red pepper like you suggested and used a mild fennel salami along with my ham and prosciutto. Wow girl!!!! THANK YOU.
We love these presses Italian sandwiches! I make them for my kids’ lunch boxes, and they love them!
These sandwiches were so great for my work lunch this week! Loved the bold and fresh flavors.