How to Make Pressed Sandwiches for a Picnic

The Bread
This is of key importance, as it’s literally what holds it all together. Choose a rustic, unsliced bakery loaf, something with a fairly dense crumb and sturdy crust, like ciabatta, a thick focaccia, or any hearty country-style loaf (and don’t overlook the flavored loaves, like rosemary, roasted garlic, or black olive, which can add another layer of deliciousness)


The Fillings
Marinated roasted tofu, seitan, and other meat substitutes are fair game for vegetarians who want a more substantial sandwich.

Raw peppers and onions can lend crunch, as can pickles, and flavorful greens, as long as they’re not too delicate, add a fresh note. 

 Herbs like basil are great additions too, but layer any greens in between drier ingredients (like meat and cheese), so they don’t get slimy pressed against wetter condiments or veggies.

Cheese: Pile on slices of whatever you like. Cheddar, provolone, gouda, swiss, are all delicious, as is softer cheese like blue cheese, fresh mozzarella, brie, or cream cheese.

Condiments: Fancy mustard; flavored mayo (garlic, harissa, herbs, crumbled bacon); pesto; chopped olive salad; fruit chutney—pick whatever combinations you like, but be sure to schmear something on the bread, to add flavor and make sure it’s not too dry. You can brush a little grassy or fruity olive oil on as well to serve the same dual purpose—but don’t put anything too wet right against the bread, lest it get soggy. 

The Pressing
Once your sandwich is assembled, wrap it up in wax paper, plastic wrap, or foil, and weight it down. You can use anything heavy, from cans and cast iron skillets to books and bricks, but you want to be sure the weight is evenly distributed—if need be, clear out enough space in your fridge to fit a sheet pan in there. Lay it on top of your sandwich(es) and place several heavy objects on top of it so there’s even pressure bearing down on all portions. Leave it for at least three to four hours, but ideally overnight.

The Packing
If you’re taking your sandwiches outside, be sure to bring not only a suitable knife for cutting them (a serrated bread knife is best), but a surface on which to slice them; a wooden cutting board can double as a serving tray for sides like fresh fruit once you’ve distributed the sandwiches. If you pressed individual sandwiches, you can slice them in half right through the wrapping if it’s parchment or wax paper, then peel it back as you eat to make sure things hold together. 

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