A ciabatta sandwich is an iconic food item from Italy, where it originated.
The bread has been around for centuries but was only recently named after its Italian creator, who created one that’s now known as a ciabatta.
It’s not often seen outside of Italy, though, so if you’re craving a classic dish like this, here’s how to enjoy your very own.
What Ingredients Are Needed To Make A Ciabatta Sandwich?
You’ll need some basic ingredients to create a ciabatta sandwich — or at least a good approximation of what you’d find in one.
Here are the main ingredients you’ll want to keep on hand when making a ciabatta sandwich:
- Cheese (preferably mozzarella)
- Tomato sauce
- Fresh herbs (optional)
The bread itself will be used to hold everything together, while the tomato sauce provides flavor.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also add chopped meat or vegetables such as onion, peppers, or mushrooms.
You could even try adding other types of cheese, including hard cheeses such as parmesan or pecorino romano, which will melt more easily than softer varieties.
There are several different kinds of breads that would work well with a ciabatta sandwich, depending on your preference.
Some traditional favorites include focaccia, sourdough, country-style white bread, pumpernickel, baguettes, and rolls.
There are many others available, too, including whole wheat, multigrain, rye, tortillas, naan, and English muffins.
If you don’t have any particular type of bread to use, however, just select whatever kind sounds best to you, whether it’s something you’ve had before or something new.
Just remember to buy fresh bread, since stale bread won’t absorb much of the tomato sauce.
Mozzarella is probably the most common cheese used in a ciabatta sandwich because it melts nicely.
However, there are plenty of other options, including parmesan, provolone, fontina, gorgonzola, feta, blue cheese, goat cheese, and cream cheese.
Again, these choices depend largely on your personal preferences, but cheese should always taste delicious no matter what variety you choose.
3. Tomato sauce
For a ciabatta sandwich, you’ll usually see tomato sauce on top of the bread rather than inside it.
This helps prevent the bread from absorbing all of the sauce, leaving chunks to get stuck between the slices.
A thicker sauce might also help spread out better, preventing the bread from getting soggy.
4. Fresh herbs
Herbs aren’t necessary for a ciabatta sandwich, but they do offer additional depth of flavor.
They can be added to the tomato sauce during preparation or sprinkled over the finished product.
Basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, chives, mint, dill, sage, and tarragon are among the many herbs you can use.
5. Other condiments
Other condiments commonly found in a ciabatta sandwich may vary widely based on regional tastes.
For example, ketchup is popular in the United States, but in parts of Europe, people typically prefer mustard instead.
In addition, both sweetened and unsweetened versions of jam are common, although honey tends to be preferred in Mediterranean regions.
Another option is to mix up your own salad dressings by combining olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and seasonings.
How Long Does It Take To Prepare A Ciabatta Sandwich?
Preparation time depends on what you need to do.
If you want to toast the bread before filling it or if you’d rather use store-bought sliced bread instead of making your own, it will definitely save some time.
You’ll also have more options when choosing toppings — such as different types of cheeses and meats, depending on which kind of sandwich you want to create.
If you’re going to go ahead and make your own, however, preparing a ciabatta sandwich can be quite simple.
All you really need is flour, water, salt, yeast, and olive oil.
Then all you have to do is knead the dough, let it rise, cut it into slices, shape them into loaves, place them on baking sheets, cover them with plastic wrap, and leave them alone until they’ve risen again.
When it comes to cooking your ciabatta sandwiches, there are plenty of ways you can approach it.
There are many different variations, including cooking methods like broiling and grilling.
But whatever way you choose to cook yours, just remember to brush both sides generously with olive oil while preheating your oven.
Here’s everything else you need to know about ciabatta sandwiches.
- The name “ciabatta” actually refers to two different things.
- You shouldn’t eat too much bread at once because it may cause heartburn.
- Ciabattas tend to be dry, especially if they aren’t baked properly.
- It takes about 5 minutes for the first rising cycle to complete.
- Some people prefer their ciabatta sandwiches slightly warm, while others prefer them cold.
- Most ciabatta recipes call for 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast per cup of flour (or ½ teaspoon of instant yeast).
- To get the best flavor out of your ciabatta, allow it to sit overnight.
What Type Of Cheese Is Typically Used In A Ciabatta Sandwich?
The most common type of cheese used in a ciabatta sandwich is mozzarella, which may be sliced or shredded.
Other options include Parmesan, goat cheese, feta, provolone, and blue cheese.
You can also use two different cheeses on top of each other, such as parmesan and brie.
What Kind Of Vegetables Are Usually Added To A Ciabatta Sandwich?
Many people think of ciabatta sandwiches when they see the word “sandwich,” but there are actually two types of sandwiches on offer at most restaurants—open-faced or closed-face.
An open-faced sandwich is the more common variety, while a closed-face sandwich consists of two slices of bread (or other flatbread) stacked together with a filling between them.
This means that you can’t eat both halves of the sandwich without first cutting into it.
If you want to go all out, you could add a few different kinds of meat to the mix, such as salami, prosciutto, mortadella, pepperoni, ham, bacon, or even chicken.
And don’t forget about those veggies! You’ll find tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, onions, olives, mushrooms, artichokes, pickles, capers, radishes, carrots, celery, and garlic among others.
You might also consider adding some herbs and spices, too.
These include rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, parsley, sage, chives, dill, marjoram, tarragon, mint, and many others.
If you’d prefer something sweeter, try apples, pears, peaches, bananas, mangoes, nectarines, pineapple, melon, or honeydew.
In short, there are plenty of options available when deciding what to put inside a ciabatta sandwich.
That said, we recommend trying a few different varieties before settling on your favorite combination.
What Is The Best Way To Toast A Ciabatta Sandwich?
Toasting is a great way to enhance any type of sandwich or flatbread — especially when you use something like butter or olive oil in place of traditional cooking spray.
Toasting creates browned edges on foods by sealing in heat and moisture.
You’ll find that the flavor improves dramatically once you add some salt to it too, which helps create additional depth.
It also adds crunch to the exterior of the sandwich, giving it just enough texture without being overly dry.
This technique works well when making sandwiches using breads other than ciabatta because they don’t have quite as much crust.
For example, toasted baguettes will get the job done beautifully while a simple white loaf won’t be able to hold up to all of those toppings!
If you want to try out this method at home, there are plenty of ways to do it.
There are two main methods that we recommend trying: baking and broiling.
Let’s take a look at both options below.
Broil Your Ciabatta Sandwich:
- Spread 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of mayonnaise on each piece of bread.
- Place them on top of a sheet pan lined with foil.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of shredded mozzarella cheese over the mayonnaise layer.
- Sprinkle another teaspoon (5 mL) of shredded mozzarella on top of each slice of bread.
- Place the sheet pan into the oven and bake until the edges begin to turn golden brown.
- About 5 minutes should do it.
Bake Your Ciabatta Sandwich:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Slice the bread horizontally through the middle, creating 4 slices total.
- Brush 1/3 cup (75 mL) of butter onto the bread pieces.
- Spread 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of mayo evenly across each piece.
- Top off each slice with 1 ounce (28 g) of sliced ham.
- Cut 1 medium tomato into 8 wedges and lay them down between the ham layers.
- Top with 1 small red onion cut into thin strips.
- Add 3 ounces (85 g) of provolone cheese to each piece then finish with another sprinkle of shredded mozzarella.
- Place the pieces back into the preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.
How Can You Make The Ciabatta Sandwich More Flavorful?
The secret ingredient in a ciabatta sandwich is olive oil! This simple addition will bring out the flavor of any other ingredients, making sure they are fully enjoyed by all those eating them.
If you want to go beyond just adding olive oil, there are plenty of ways to do so.
You could add some garlic, herbs or even cheese.
These additions also help create the perfect texture, which we’ll get into next.
Add extra crunch with grated Parmesan cheese
For a real treat, sprinkle some freshly-grated parmesan over both sides before baking.
If you don’t have access to a cheese grater, try using a Microplane zester instead.
Just grate half of the amount onto each side.
Try pesto sauce
Another great option is to use pesto sauce.
Not only does pesto taste amazing, it adds another layer of flavor to the ciabatta sandwich.
To make this easier, take two slices of bread and spread the bottom slice with about 1/4 cup (about 3 tablespoons) of pesto.
Then top that with sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves.
Top off with the other piece of bread, cut diagonally across the middle, and toast until golden brown.
Toss veggies inside the sandwich
Instead of topping the sandwich with tomato, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves, why not toss everything together at once? Simply mix together equal parts chopped spinach, red onion, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and black olives.
Spread the mixture between the pieces of bread and bake according to the directions below.
What Type Of Condiments Should Be Used On A Ciabatta Sandwich?
The base of the ciabatta is typically sliced white or whole wheat bread.
This means there are no other ingredients needed in order to create a delicious sandwich.
However, there are many different types of condiments which can be used to top off the sandwich.
These include things such as tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, mayonnaise, olive oil, butter, and herbs.
- Tomatoes – A slice of tomato is always good for a little acidity.
- You could also use cherry tomatoes, which have a sweeter taste than regular ones.
- Lettuce – Lettuce adds moisture to the sandwich and gives it some crunchiness.
- Some people prefer iceberg lettuce to romaine because it holds up better when being eaten.
- Cheese – Cheese makes everything taste better! Try using mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, feta, chèvre, goat’s milk, or cottage cheese.
- Mayonnaise – Mayonnaise keeps the insides moist while adding flavor.
- There are two main varieties of mayo – light and regular.
- Butter – Butter adds richness and smoothness to the sandwich.
- You could add some extra herbs to the butter too, if desired.
- Olive Oil – Olive oil provides both texture and flavor to the sandwiches.
- Adding a drizzle of olive oil before putting the bread together will help keep it soft.
- Herbs – Freshly chopped herbs are great additions to any sandwich.
- They provide a burst of flavor at every bite.
- Other Extras – Other foods you might want to try including meatballs, bacon, prosciutto, salami, ham, and pepperoni.
Making the perfect ciabatta sandwich
When making your next ciabatta sandwich, follow these steps:
1. Place the slices of bread on a cutting board
Lay out all of the elements of the sandwich (listed above) on the board and arrange them so they look appealing.
Make sure the toppings are spread out evenly across each piece of bread.
Don’t worry about having enough room between each topping — just put them close enough so they don’t get squished into one another.
2. Spread the mayonnaise on both pieces of bread
Spread the mayonnaise over each side of each slice of bread.
If you’d like, you can mix up the ratio of light to regular mayo to achieve a creamy consistency.
Once you’ve done this, give the edges of the bread a few taps to ensure the mayonnaise is even throughout.
3. Add the toppings
Add the cheeses, meats, olives, and herbs to the bottom half of each piece of bread.
Then place the tops onto the bottoms and press down firmly to ensure the bread sticks together.
4. Cut the sandwich in half
Cut the sandwich in half crosswise through the middle, then cut each half lengthwise in thirds.
Each section becomes four individual sandwiches.
What Extras Can Be Added To The Ciab
The ciabatta is usually served with olive oil or butter, garlic mayonnaise, tomato sauce or even pesto.
You could also add cheese (if you have some) or pickles, olives or capers.
If you want to take things up a notch, make sure to add something extra like roasted peppers, artichokes, mushrooms or prosciutto.
You’ll find many different types of breads in Italy, including focaccia, panettone, brioche, baguette, pugliese, sfincione and more.
These are all great options for making sandwiches, too!
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread cut horizontally to assemble
- 1/4 cup pesto sauce
- 10 ounces deli turkey
- 4 ounces Italian dry salami
- 1 large tomato sliced
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese fresh, sliced
- basil leaves fresh
- To make an open-faced sandwich, slice the ciabatta loaf horizontally.
- The pesto sauce should be spread on both sides of the loaf.
- On the bottom half of the loaf, layer the sliced mozzarella cheese.
- Then add the turkey and salami.
- Combine the sliced tomatoes and fresh basil leaves in a mixing bowl.
- Close the sandwich carefully and cut it into smaller pieces to enjoy!