A meal doesn't get much easier than a sandwich -- especially when those sandwiches are made ahead of time, their flavors only improving as they wait. Best of all? When you're hungry, all you have to do is dig in and enjoy. Check out these four ideas for pressed sandwiches -- perfect whether you're planning a meal to eat at home or on the go (Hollywood Bowl, anyone?).
Roasted vegetable sandwich:
You can find all four recipes below.
Total time: 1 hour, plus 2 to 4 hours marinating for the olive relish and 4 hours pressing
Note: To blanch the cauliflower and carrot, cook in boiling water for 2 minutes, then plunge into cold water.
1/2 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pitted oil-packed black olives, coarsely chopped
1 (2-ounce) jar pimentos, drained and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, trimmed and minced, about 1/3 cup
1/4 cup cauliflower florets, blanched and minced
1 carrot, peeled, blanched and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large round loaf semolina bread
1 cup very finely shredded lettuce
1/4 pound thinly sliced ham
1/4 pound thinly sliced mortadella with pistachios
1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
6 ounces thinly sliced provolone
1. Make an olive relish by combining the green and black olives with the pimentos, celery, cauliflower, carrot, garlic, parsley, oregano, vinegar and oil. Stir to blend, then set aside to marinate at least 2 hours, but preferably 4.
2. Slice the bread in half horizontally. Scoop out some of the bottom part, leaving a retaining wall on all sides. Drain the olive mixture, reserving the liquid. Spread half the relish onto the bread. Top with successive layers of lettuce, ham, mortadella, salami and cheese. Drizzle with a little of the reserved marinade. Spread the remaining olive relish over the layers. Top with the reserved half of the loaf.
3. Wrap the sandwich in plastic film. Place it on a baking sheet and weight it with something heavy such as an iron skillet or canned tomatoes. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to compress. Cut into thin wedges to serve.
Each serving: 362 calories; 1,212 mg. sodium; 43 mg. cholesterol; 21 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 17 grams protein; 2 grams fiber.
Total time: 30 minutes, plus 6 hours pressing
10 shiitake mushroom caps, wiped clean
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2pounds skirt steak
2 chopped chipotle chiles with their adobo sauce, or to taste
1 loaf ciabatta, about the same length as the skirt steaks
1. Heat a grill, a broiler or a large skillet over high heat. Lightly brush the shiitakes with a little oil and season well with salt and pepper. Cook until tender. Sprinkle with the thyme and set aside to cool.
2. Grill, broil or fry the steak until rare (if frying, use 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil).
3. While the meat cooks, slice the ciabatta lengthwise, leaving a hinge attached on one side and opening the loaf. As soon as the steak is done, lay it into the bread and season lavishly with salt and pepper. Spread with the chipotle chiles, then with the shiitakes. Fold over the top side of the ciabatta to close. Transfer the sandwich to a double layer of butcher's or waxed paper. Fold the paper over the sandwich and tie it with kitchen twine at 2-inch intervals. Wrap it with more paper. Place it on a baking sheet and weight it by placing a skillet or heavy cans on top. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
4. To serve, unwrap and slice off sandwiches as needed. Serve with a sharp cheese and chipotle mayonnaise, if you like.
Each serving: 424 calories; 519 mg. sodium; 59 mg. cholesterol; 14 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 42 grams carbohydrates; 31 grams protein; 3 grams fiber.
ROASTED VEGETABLE SANDWICH
Total time: 35 minutes plus at least 1 hour pressing
2 medium zucchini, scrubbed and trimmed
1 medium eggplant, trimmed and peeled
1 sweet onion ( such as Vidalia or Maui), peeled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2cup roughly chopped fresh basil, divided
1/2cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
10 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped
2 oil-packed anchovies, coarsely chopped
1/2pound fresh mozzarella
1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the zucchini lengthwise into thin slices and place in large bowl. Cut the eggplant and onion in half lengthwise, then crosswise into very thin slices and add to bowl. Add the garlic and half the basil. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons of the oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss until well mixed and coated.
2. Transfer the vegetables to 2 large baking sheets. Roast, stirring and turning every 5 minutes, until very soft, 25 to 35 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Combine the tomatoes and anchovies with the remaining basil in a blender. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil and process until chunky, adding more oil to make a spreadable paste.
4. Slice the baguette lengthwise, leaving one side hinged. Hollow out the center of each side, leaving a retaining wall all around. Spread both sides lightly with the tomato- anchovy mixture. Carefully lay the roasted vegetable mixture evenly in the hollow. Lay the mozzarella in slices or in mounds over the vegetables.
5. Carefully close the top half of the bread. Using a spatula, press any protruding cheese or vegetables back into the sandwich. Wrap in waxed paper and tie at 2-inch intervals. Top the sandwich with cast-iron skillets or other heavy weights and let it stand at least 1 hour to compact. To serve, use serrated knife to cut into thick slices.
Each serving: 448 calories; 409 mg. sodium; 31 mg. cholesterol; 29 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 35 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams protein; 5grams fiber.
CHORIZO AND EGG SANDWICH
Total time: 20 minutes plus 1 hour pressing
Note: Pea shoots are found fresh in Asian markets.
1 round olive or plain sourdough bread
3 to 4 handfuls pea shoots or stemmed arugula leaves
1/2pound Gruyere or Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced, divided
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1/4pound Spanish chorizo, casing removed, diced
1/2small onion, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
1. Slice the bread in half horizontally, leaving 1 side hinged. Carefully hollow out the center of each side, leaving a retaining wall. Place on large sheet of waxed paper or foil. Lay the arugula or pea shoots in the well in the bottom half, then layer half the cheese over that. Set aside.
2. Beat the eggs with the milk and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Combine the chorizo and onion in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat slightly and pour in the eggs. Cook, stirring with a spatula, until set but still moist. Using a spatula, lift the cooked egg mixture onto the cheese-lined bread and arrange in an even layer, pressing down to compact. Lay the remaining cheese evenly on top.
4. Close the top of the bread, pressing down. Wrap the sandwich tightly in paper or foil and weight with cast-iron skillet or other heavy object for 1 hour to compact.
5. To serve, use a serrated knife to cut into wedges.
Each serving: 659 calories; 984 mg. sodium; 406 mg. cholesterol; 39 grams fat; 39 grams saturated fat; 36 grams carbohydrates; 39 grams protein; 2 grams fiber.