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Pressed Sandwich with Pesto & Chicken

This cold pressed sandwich, aka brick sandwich, is loaded with pesto, chicken, mozzarella, red peppers, and arugula. It is perfect for picnics and parties!

Slices of pressed sandwich with mozzarella and arugula on parchment paper.

This impressive sandwich can feed a crowd! It uses an entire loaf of bread. And it’s piled high with fresh ingredients. What really makes this guy stand out is the technique. It gets weighted down and transformed into a perfectly pressed sandwich.

The sandwich is straightforward to make and assemble, but the sheer size of it is a little awkward! I recommend taking the assembly slow the first time you make it. When planning a meal for guests, a practice run is the best thing you can do to guarantee success. 

A party-sized pressed sandwich is the perfect option when you’re feeling fancy. Make it for a gourmet picnic date, or serve it as an elegant option at your next party.

Ingredients

French bread, chicken, pesto, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and arugula on a wooden board.

First, you need a hearty loaf of bread. It’s the backbone of this sandwich! A loaf of French bread from the grocery store bakery is easy to find and works great. The bread should be crusty and firm, or it will get soggy during pressing. Ciabatta and focaccia also work, but whole loaves can be hard to find! 

Pesto gives this pressed sandwich a ton of flavor and keeps it from drying out. You can use store-bought but my homemade 5 minute pesto puts it over the top!

Make grilled chicken breast or save time by buying store-bought. Check out my recipe for juicy grilled chicken breasts. Let it cool to room temperature before assembly.  This is also a great way to use up leftover grilled chicken!

Roasted red peppers are sweet and flavorful. They also add a little extra moisture. Drain them well before adding. If you leave any excess liquid, they will make the sandwich soggy.

Top it off with baby arugula for a fresh, light crunch and a mild, peppery flavor. 

Variations

  • Make individual sandwiches. I have found that small ciabatta rolls are easy to find. You can use 8 ciabatta rolls to make this into individually portioned sandwiches. Follow the directions but divide all the fillings among the rolls. Then wrap each roll and put it under the weighted tray.
  • Use a shortcut for the chicken. Use precooked chicken. Frozen grilled chicken strips, sliced deli chicken, and shredded rotisserie chicken all work.
  • Make it with cold cuts. Use 1 pound of pre-sliced Italian deli meats instead of grilled chicken.

Equipment

You’ll need a bread knife, 2 sheet pans, plastic wrap, and something heavy to use as a weight.

Instructions

Assemble the sandwich. Slice the loaf of bread in half horizontally. Spread pesto on the inside of the top and bottom halves. Layer the chicken on the bottom half.

Next, add the roasted red peppers. Last, add the arugula.

Freshly made party sandwich with chicken, pesto, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and arugula.

Place the top half of the bread on. It will be very tall! 

Wrap it in plastic wrap. You will need several long sheets of overlapping plastic wrap to make a piece big enough. Lay the pieces of plastic wrap out on your work surface. Overlap them to create an extra wide sheet. Carefully lay the sandwich on top. It helps to have an extra pair of hands for moving it. Roll the sandwich up tightly in plastic.

Press the sandwich. Place the sandwich on an upside-down baking sheet. Then place another baking sheet on top. Place the cast iron or bricks* on top of the second baking sheet.

Refrigerate the weighted sandwich for at least 4 hours. Or up to 24 hours. Keep it weighted down the entire time. 

Cross section of pressed sandwich on a cutting board.

Slice and serve. Keep the sandwich weighted down until close to serving time. Cut into 8 slices and serve.

If you want to make them into an appetizer or slider size, cut each of the 8 slices in half to make 16 party sandwiches. 

Serving Tips

  • Perfect for picnics and party platters
  • Take them tailgating
  • Serve them at a luncheon or baby shower
  • Eat them as a make ahead lunch or supper

What to serve with cold pressed sandwiches

Sliced pressed Italian sandwich on parchment paper.

More Sandwich Recipes

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Pressed Sandwich with Pesto & Chicken

Slices of party sized pressed sandwich with pesto and chicken.

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This cold pressed sandwich is loaded with pesto, chicken, mozzarella, red peppers, and arugula. Perfect for picnics and parties!

  • Author: Mandi
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes (plus 4-24 hours for pressing)
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Sandwiches & Wraps
  • Method: Press
  • Cuisine: Italian-American

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 16ounce loaf of crusty French bread (22 inches long)
  • 1 cup pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 pound grilled chicken breast, sliced
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced roasted red peppers, drained
  • 4 cups baby arugula, washed and dried

Instructions

  1. Assemble the sandwich. Slice the loaf of bread in half horizontally. Spread pesto on the inside of the top and bottom halves. Layer the chicken on the bottom half. Layer the sliced mozzarella on top of the chicken. Next, add the roasted red peppers. Last, add the arugula. Place the top half of the bread on. It will be very tall!
  2. Wrap it in plastic wrap. You will need several long sheets of overlapping plastic wrap to make a piece big enough. Lay the pieces of plastic wrap out on your work surface. Overlap them to create an extra wide sheet. Carefully lay the sandwich on top. It helps to have an extra pair of hands for moving it. Roll the sandwich up tightly in plastic.
  3. Press the sandwich. Place the sandwich on an upside-down baking sheet. Then place another baking sheet on top. Place the cast iron or bricks* on top of the second baking sheet.
  4. Wait…Refrigerate the weighted sandwich for at least 4 hours. Or up to 24 hours. Keep it weighted down the entire time.
  5. Slice and serve. Keep the sandwich weighted down until close to serving time. Cut into 8 slices and serve. If you want to make them into an appetizer or slider size, cut each of the 8 slices in half to make 16 party sandwiches.

 

Notes

  • The order matters! Putting it together in the correct order will keep it from getting soggy.
  • Bricks or a cast iron pan work great as weights. I use regular paving bricks wrapped in aluminum foil.
  • If you remove the weights too long before serving, the bread will start to bounce back to its original shape.
  • Not up for grilling chicken? Use precooked chicken. Frozen grilled chicken strips, sliced deli chicken, and shredded rotisserie chicken all work.
  • Not into chicken? Use pre-sliced Italian deli meats instead.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: slice
  • Calories: 582
  • Sugar: 4.2 g
  • Sodium: 1113.8 mg
  • Fat: 28.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 39.8 g
  • Fiber: 2.6 g
  • Protein: 39.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 93 mg

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Tag @mandiofthemountains on Instagram – I can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

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