I love sub sandwiches, and this recipe for the Perfect Sub Sandwich is hard to beat. Grab-and-go convenience makes sub sandwiches perfect for picnics, tailgating or any informal get together.
My favorite sub is loaded up with good quality thinly sliced Italian deli meats (I like Boars Head brand), provolone cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced garden tomatoes, and just the right amount of “sauce” to bring all the flavors together in each bite of soft chewy sub bread.
The origins of the Sub Sandwich
As with most of my favorite recipes, the ones with a good story always make the dish that much better. Sub sandwiches don’t disappoint.
With a Google search, I found lots of info on the origins of sub sandwiches. How much of it is true, it’s hard to say. But what I figured out is they most likely originated in Italian-American communities in the Northeast and quickly became an American favorite.
One of the earliest submarine sandwiches comes from New York City! Italian immigrants who worked in the shipyards ate overstuffed sandwiches for their meals on the job. They used long rolls that were filled with a variety of meats, cheeses, and vegetables. These sandwiches resembled a submarine, shortened to “sub.”
New York City and its surrounding areas also embraced the term “hero” for their sub sandwiches. The origins of this name aren’t clear but probably originated in Italian-American communities in the area.
In Philadelphia, the “hoagie” was popular. The name may have come from the “Hoggies”, a nickname for workers at the Hog Island shipyard during World War I. Hoagie is still a popular name for subs in Philly.
In New England, the subs are often called “grinders.” The name may have come from the laborers who worked at the submarine base in Groton, Connecticut, who were nicknamed “Grinders.” Another theory as that the soft chewy made for extra work in chewing the sandwiches–had to grind your jaw to chew.
Whether called a sub, hoagie, hero, or grinder or any of the other names for the sub, the submarine sandwich, with soft chewy bread loaded up with Italian deli meat with lots of fixins’ and “sauce” will always be one of my favorites.
What’s in the “Perfect” Sub
For the Sub
- good-quality sub rolls
- thinly sliced Genoa salami
- thinly sliced pepperoni
- thinly sliced ham
- thinly sliced provolone cheese
- thinly sliced tomato
- thinly sliced red onion
- shredded iceberg lettuce
For the Sub Sandwich Spread
Sub Sandwich Dressing (The “Sauce”)
- extra virgin olive oil
- red wine vinegar
- garlic powder
- dried oregano
- red pepper flakes
- kosher salt, a pinch extra for tomatoes
- freshly ground pepper to taste
How to Make The Perfect Sub Sandwich
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Set the bowl aside
- In another small bowl, combine the mayo and pesto (I use the ready made kind from a jar). Set aside.
- Place the sliced red onions in a small bowl with some water and set aside. This gets some of the strong flavor out of the onion. Set the bowl aside while you prep other ingredients. Drain onions on paper towel before using.
- Place shredded lettuce in a bowl, and add enough sub dressing to evenly coat the lettuce. Set the bowl aside. I used a package of shredded iceberg lettuce.
To assemble the subs
- Slice the rolls horizontally.
- Scoop out some of the bread from each half.
- Spread the mayo/pesto mixture evenly onto both halves of the roll.
- Starting with the bottom half, layer the slices of each of the meats, followed by provolone cheese, then the tomato (sprinkled with a little salt), lettuce, and onion.
- Top with the other half of the bread.
- Wrap with wax paper (this helps hold all the ingredients together) and they’re ready to serve.
How to Wrap A Sub
Wrapping a sub sandwich is the perfect way to hold all the ingredients of the sandwich in place and provides an easy way to transport your sub. This YouTube link shows you how they do it at Jersey Mikes. How to Wrap A Sub Sandwich.
Other Favorite Sandwich Recipes
The Perfect Sub Sandwich
- 2 good-quality sub rolls
- 4 slices Genoa salami thinly sliced
- 4 slices pepperoni thinly sliced
- 4 slices ham thinly sliced
- 2 slices provolone cheese thinly sliced
- 1 tomato thinly sliced and patted dry
- ¼ red onion thinly sliced
- 1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
Sub Sandwich Spread
- 4 Tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon pesto
Sub Sandwich Dressing
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt a pinch extra for tomatoes
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, COMBINE the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Set bowl ASIDE.
- In another small bowl, COMBINE mayo and pesto. Set ASIDE.
- PLACE sliced onions in a small bowl with water and SET ASIDE. DRAIN on paper towel before using.
- PLACE shredded lettuce in a bowl, ADD enough sub dressing to evenly coat lettuce. SET ASIDE.
To assemble the subs
- SLICE rolls horizontally.
- SCOOP out some of the bread from each half.
- SPREAD mayo/pesto mixture evenly onto both halves.
- Starting with the bottom half, LAYER slices of each of the meats, followed by provolone cheese, tomato (sprinkled with a little salt), lettuce, and onion.
- TOP with the other half of the bread.
- WRAP with wax paper and SERVE.