We took a road trip to Alabama for my grandfather’s surprise 80th birthday party. Friends and family came in from all over the country to celebrate. It was an awesome time where surprises were everywhere, memories were made and reuniting with family was long overdue.
It is a 12-13 hour trip from Maryland to where they are and we have made it frequently. Typically we leave the house around four in the morning and I always pack a cooler with sandwiches, snacks and plenty of drinks. This year I decided to try something different and make these Italian pressed sandwiches.
These sandwiches are perfect for a long road trip because they do not get soggy and stay fresh packed in a cooler. Layers of assorted Italian meats, provolone cheese, crisp Romaine lettuce and olive tapenade are pressed between a ciabatta bread baguette.
A funny thing happened the night before we were going to leave for our trip. We lost our mind apparently because we both tossed around the idea of leaving that night instead of in the morning. After a little deliberation we decided to go ahead and give it a shot. Turns out, it was the perfect solution for us. I started out driving while my husband slept and after three hours we switched so I could sleep. Next thing I knew I woke up and we were only a few hours away.
Once the sun started to come up we both ended up staying awake and were ready for breakfast. Nothing says breakfast like an Italian pressed sandwich at six in the morning, right? They were too good to go to waste so we went ahead and ate them.
Eating a sandwich while watching the sun come up across the water and fields in the middle of nowhere in Tennessee was definitely not something we thought would happen. It really was a nice moment though to know we were so close and not just starting out on our journey. The trip flew by so fast it really didn’t seem like it took long at all.
I will never forget the first time we made the trip several years ago. It was my husband’s first road trip headed to the South and he was amazed by the number of firework stores there were. They pop up every few miles once you pass the Virginia state line and we always say we will stop but never do. Unfortunately this time it was so early they were not even open but we did manage to stop in the middle of the road to get a couple of pictures.
We had a wonderful time catching up with family we had not seen in years, reliving past memories and cracking up and too many things to count. It is always hard to say good-bye but once we did we packed up and hit the road again.
The trip back however did not fly by and was full of heavy wind and rain, late-night stops at Wal-Mart to get new windshield wipers, stopping or going 20 MPH in a 65 MPH zone because the rain was so bad and dodging wildlife and down trees on the back roads of Tennessee.
We drove for hours and felt like we got nowhere. We eventually did get home safe and in once piece. With countless memories to look back on it was definitely worth it….we just wished we had some more of these sandwiches to get us through it!
Italian Pressed Sandwiches
*You can cut the bread into individual sandwiches first if you prefer.
*You can use wax paper, foil or any other type of paper instead of parchment.
*I made these 24 hours ahead of time. They do not get soggy and taste better with time.
Olive Tapenade (recipe below)
Italian meats (I used Genoa salami, hot Capicola, hard salami and Proscuitto)
Ciabatta bread baguette or loaf
- Place 2 pieces of parchment paper on counter.
- Cut bread in half lengthwise.
- Spread olive tapenade on each half of bread.
- Place layer of first meat on bottom of loaf.
- Follow with other meats, cheese and lettuce, varying the layers throughout.
- Place other half on bread on top and carefully wrap sandwich in the parchment paper.
- Tightly wrap in plastic wrap, pressing together as firmly as possible. If you cannot get it wrapped tightly then wrap and place under a heavy pan to keep it pressed together.
- Place in fridge at least 4 hours.
- Slice while still wrapped and serve.
1 cup green olives*
1 cup garlic-stuffed kalamata olives*
1/2 cup assorted roasted peppers* (red, Hungarian, etc)
2 Tbsp olive oil
- Roughly chop olives and peppers and place in bowl.
- Combine with remaining ingredients.
- Store covered in refrigerator.
*Note: I got my olives and peppers from the olive bar at my grocery store. If you do not have one find them in jars. You can also add additional garlic if you cannot find garlic-stuffed olives.