Saturday, May 24, 2014

Italian Sandwiches

Unfortunately, in these days of juggling swimming, baseball, and soccer, we have eaten not at home more than once--we've eaten at the swimming pool, at baseball games, and in the car.  I know, not ideal, but it is the reality of early swim season.

Compounding the scheduling problem is the fact that my kids get basic sandwiches most days for lunches--peanut butter and jelly for one and meat, cheese, and lettuce for the other.  When I feed kids on the go, I try to avoid making them eat the same meal twice in one day.

These sandwiches are an answer to that.  They use "fancier" meat and cheeses.  There's a layer of roasted red peppers which make almost all sandwiches better and we use special, chewy white bread instead of the whole wheat fare of lunches.

This is a staple in our early swim season menu and adaptable enough to customize for all of my five silly eaters.  Ideally, I would make this the morning that I wanted to eat it and let them the sandwiches sit all day so their juices absorb into the bread.  However, I don't think my kids would go for that (and I'm just not that with it), so I make them right before we eat them.

This will serve 4 - 6, depending on the size of your sandwiches.  Just change amounts for the number of people you are feeding.

Italian Sandwiches
adapted from Sunset Magazine

1 - 2 ciabatta loaves (I love Whole Foods olive oil and sea salt ciabatta loaves for this)
1/4 - 1/2 c olive tapenade (black, green, or a mixture)
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
1/2 - 3/4 lb Italian deli meats, such as salami, prosciutto, coppa, etc (I like the Costco Italian deli meat tray)
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced as a thinly as possible
1 roasted red bell pepper (either home roasted or store bought, jarred)
6 leaves basil, torn into small pieces

If everyone you are feeding will eat an identical sandwich, the easiest way to make this is to slice the entire ciabatta loaf in half horizontally.  Spread bottom half with the tapenade.  Drizzle the cut side of the top half with vinegar and oil.  Arrange the meats on top of the tapenade, followed by the mozzarella, red pepper, and basil.  Place top half on top of filling.

If everyone likes their own version of this sandwich (like in my house), first slice the ciabatta into the desired serving size for each person.  Then cut each slice into half horizontally and add desired sandwich fixings.

If you are me, you eat these immediately and don't press at all.  However if you have more forethought, proceed with the recipe.

Once sandwiches are made (either way you are doing it), wrap with foil or plastic wrap.  Place a heavy cutting board or cast iron skillet on top of sandwiches and weight with 2 - 4 lbs (think of cans of beans, six pack, etc).  Let sit 30 minutes to 2 hours.  Unwrap and serve

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