There’s truly nothing more satisfying than a loaded steak sandwich and this Italian Tri-Tip Sandwich is no exception. Toasted ciabatta bread gets piled high with thin strips of steak, melty provolone, fresh pesto, roasted bell peppers and fresh spinach. Altogether, these ingredients strike the perfect balance between fresh and savory.
About the Recipe
As Tom Colicchio says, making simple food is much harder than making complicated food. And this sandwich is a study in simplicity. The key to making a really good steak sandwich is to use high quality ingredients and to execute every step well.
One of the most important aspects of this sandwich is to cook the beef to your liking and to avoid overcooking it, which can make it tough. Additionally, to make this quick and easy, and weeknight-friendly, we’re cooking everything under the broiler. Though if you prefer, you can grill the components.
The other component—use the freshest ingredients when possible. Fresh red peppers and fresh pesto make a big difference in the final product.
Roasted Bell Peppers
For this recipe we use two fresh bell peppers and roast them ourselves. (If you’ve never roasted peppers before, we’ve got a whole guide on how to do it.) For a quicker option you can use jarred roasted red bell peppers. Just make sure to drain and thoroughly pat them dry before layering onto the sandwich.
For this steak sandwich tri-tip is our cut of beef of choice, though top sirloin is also fantastic. Either work beautifully, but the key to tender steak is to thinly slice the cooked beef against the grain. We also like to toss it with any residual drippings before layering onto the sandwich.
Ciabatta bread is our choice for this sandwich—it’s light and airy while having a nice outer crust. It also browns and toasts up beautifully. Look for a large loaf that can easily be cut into two halves for a large four-person sandwich.
Homemade is always best and we love our Triple-Herb Pesto for this sandwich. But to cut down on time, you can use prepared pesto. We always recommend seeking out fresh pesto sold in the refrigerated section as it’s far fresher and more flavorful. Rana or Buitoni are both great brands.
Test Kitchen Tips
- Both tri-tip and sirloin beef cuts are incredibly beefy in flavor and work beautifully on this sandwich. However, both can get quite tough when overcooked, so keep a close eye on the internal temperature and keep carry-over cooking in mind.
- This recipe calls for two types of oil—avocado oil and olive oil. Avocado oil is lightly brushed onto the steak before it gets a quick sear—its high smoke point makes it a great oil to use for browning the steak in a ripping hot cast-iron skillet. (Canola or vegetable oil can also be used for this step).
- Olive oil on the other hand, is used for brushing over the ciabatta because it’s far more flavorful and, of course, very Italian.
What to Serve with Tri-Tip Steak Sandwich
- We often serve these tri-tip sandwiches with our go-to Garden Salad. It’s reminiscent of a steakhouse salad—loaded with veggies and dressed with a tangy vinaigrette.
- Our Simple Grape Salad would also be a great pairing—light, fresh and a little sweet to balance out the savory sando.
- For an ultra-light and crispy salad, try our Celery Salad.
Variations on The Recipe
- Instead of going an Italian route, swap the pesto for a mix of whole-grain mustard and mayonnaise, add some thinly sliced red onions (pickled onions or caramelized onions would also be great), and sharp Cheddar cheese.
- You could also take this a steakhouse route by using a horseradish sauce or aioli (mayo + prepared horseradish + garlic + a dash of paprika), slices of tomato, pepper Jack cheese and green leafy lettuce.
- Serve the sandwich open-faced! Cut into thin strips, this would make a delicious appetizer or finger food. Just make sure the steak is cut into really thin slices for easier eating.
- Consider brushing some garlic butter over the top of the bun right before serving for a savory finish.
Absolutely! Fresh arugula, butter lettuce or a mixture of spring greens are all great options. You could even sneak a few leaves of basil into the mix. Alternatively, you can use cooked spinach, Swiss chard or kale as well.
Look for ciabatta rolls which seem to be fairly common these days. You can also use a large loaf of focaccia.
Cast-iron is our preferred skillet for this recipe—it heats evenly and retains heat, which is ideal for searing and cooking the steak under the broiler. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet you can also use an oven-proof stainless steel skillet. Tri-tip roast tends to be fairly large, so you’ll definitely need a large skillet.
Italian Tri-Tip Sandwich
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 pounds tri-tip steak, trimmed
- Avocado oil
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread, halved horizontally
- 1 cup fresh pesto or refrigerated basil pesto, such as Rana or Buitoni
- 8 ounces sliced provolone cheese
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- Heat a broiler to high with rack set 6-inches from element.
- Broil peppers until charred on all sides, about 20 minutes total. Transfer peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic or a plate and let steam/cool.
- Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
- Brush steak with a thin layer of avocado oil, then season with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
- Add steak to preheated skillet and cook until deeply browned on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook another 3 minutes (it gets smoky, so a good vent if ideal) then transfer to top rack in oven and broil until an instant-read thermometer reaches 125ºF (for medium-rare); 5–6 more minutes.
- Transfer steak to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes.
- While steak rests, remove and discard skins and seeds from bell peppers, then cut into thick strips.
- Place ciabatta halves on a baking sheet, cut side up. Brush 2 teaspoons oil on each cut side of bread; season lightly with salt and pepper. Broil until lightly toasted and golden brown, about 2 minutes, broiling halfway through to encourage even browning.
- Spread pesto on cut sides of ciabatta and top with provolone. Broil until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown, 1–1 ½ minutes.
- Slice steak, against the grain, into very thin strips.
- Arrange half of peppers on bottom half of ciabatta, top with spinach, followed by steak slices, and finally remaining roasted peppers. Top with remaining half of ciabatta bread, press lightly to compress, then cut into 4 to 8 servings and enjoy.
This sponsored post is in partnership with the Iowa Beef Council. As always the thoughts, opinions, recipe, photos and content are all my own.