Whether you prepare it as a panino, toast the bread, or simply enjoy straight, this mortadella sandwich hits the spot. Made with ciabatta rolls, fresh mozzarella, pesto, and sun-dried tomato spread, many breads and cheeses can be subbed in to make this delicious dish your own.
One of my favorite stops in a trip to my husband's hometown is a visit to the Italian market. Our usual agenda is to each order a panino for lunch and then swap halves, giving us both the opportunity to enjoy two separate sandwiches.
This mortadella sandwich is based on one we had there, with a tweak.
They use pistachio pesto, which complements the fact that they're featured in many mortadella varieties. However I tested using pistachio pesto at home and found any flavor differentiation a different nut brings to be lost among the other ingredients. I just stick to walnuts.
Other than that, why mess with something this delicious! While this is my preferred homemade version, there are many ways you can take this simple pressed mortadella sandwich to customize it as you like.
What You'll Need
- Bread - Square ciabatta rolls are excellent choices if you're making this as a panino as they crisp nicely and aren't too doughy. If you're toasting the bread, look for Kaiser rolls or focaccia.
- Mortadella - If you're unfamiliar, this is like an Italian bologna made from pork. Many kinds will feature pistachios, but any variety will do. Ask the deli counter to slice it thinly as this makes for an easy to assemble and eat sandwich.
- Cheese - I will typically use a slice or two of fresh mozzarella as I like that its flavor doesn't overwhelm the more mild mortadella, but plenty can work. I've also used sliced Provolone and that's obviously delish, too.
- Pesto - Standard basil pesto brings that bright burst of flavor, but another kind (spinach walnut pesto or arugula pesto) can do the trick.
- Sun-Dried Tomato Mayo (optional) - Sliced tomatoes can get slippery and messy on a panino, so I opt for a second spread instead. Mixing chopped sun-dried tomatoes or Calabrian chili peppers (or both!) into a little bit of mayonnaise is quick and easy.
How to Make a Mortadella Sandwich
- First Spread - If using, spread sun-dried tomato/chili pepper mayo onto one side of bread.
- Meat - Fold each slice of mortadella in half and arrange on top of the bread. This makes for a neat sandwich and eliminates overhang that can overly brown/burn on the pan if you're making panini.
- Cheese - Add a layer of fresh mozzarella (or whichever cheese you're using). A drizzle of good balsamic vinegar is optional but tasty.
- Pesto - Spread pesto along the top half of bread and cap off the mortadella sandwich. Tuck in any pieces of meat or cheese that are sticking out.
Most of the time I make grilled sandwiches or mortadella panini, but if opting for un-toasted bread, consider frying the mortadella instead. First cut three-quarter-inch slits along four equidistant edges of each slice (this prevents curling), then briefly fry in a medium skillet for a few minutes on both sides until the edges are browned. Repeat for all slices.
Here are some options if you'd like a sandwich with crunch:
- Toasted Bread - Toast the bread before assembling the sandwich for crispness without further cooking.
- Grilled - Assemble the sandwich using un-toasted bread, then cook this sandwich in a a bit of butter in an open pan, flipping once to become a grilled mortadella and cheese sandwich.
- Panino - This sandwich can easily become a mortadella panino. After assembling, simply cook it on a weighted-top countertop grill or panini press until the bread has crisped and the cheese has melted.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- If making the pesto homemade, consider reducing the amount of oil traditionally added. This will produce a thicker pesto, which in turn yields a less messy sandwich.
- It can be hard to resist the urge, but try not to overload the pesto and mayo onto the sandwich as it becomes messy once heated.
- Make this sandwich your own! Other tasty topping options that can be added OR subbed in include:
- sliced roasted red peppers
- banana pepper rings or peperoncini
- tomato slices
- olive tapenade
- shredded lettuce, spinach, or arugula (if not grilling or pressing the sandwich as greens can get wilted and soggy when heated)
More Sandwich Recipes
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
- 1 ½ Tablespoons basil pesto or to taste
- 1 Tablespoon chopped sun-dried tomatoes or to taste
- 1 ½ teaspoons mayonnaise or to taste
- 1 ciabatta roll or two slices of bread
- 4-6 slices mortadella thinly-sliced
- 1 ounce fresh mozzarella sliced
- Prepare pesto if making from scratch. Consider using less oil than usual so it's a thicker consistency for a sandwich spread.
- Stir together chopped sun-dried tomatoes and mayonnaise in a small bowl.
- Toast the roll/bread slices if you like, or leave them un-toasted if preparing this sandwich grilled or pressed.
- Spread the sun-dried tomato/mayo mixture onto one half of the bread. Fold each slice of mortadella in half and stack it on top. Arrange the slices with the folded edges facing out to assemble a neater sandwich without overhang.
- Top the mortadella with even slices of fresh mozzarella. Spread prepared pesto onto the other half of the roll/bread and place it on the sandwich to cap it off.
- Cook the sandwich in your preferred manner until the bread crisps and the cheese melts: Grill in a pan (flip halfway) or place on a panini press or weighted countertop grill, etc. Slice in half and enjoy.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer
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