Recipe of the Week: Italian Deli-Stuffed Loaf

Some people wouldn’t call 100 degrees picnic weather. I don’t call that picnic weather either, but even though it’s the hottest time of the year, I’m still making sandwiches to take on hiking, camping and swimming adventures.

I liked this sandwich idea from “A Moveable Feast: Delicious Picnic Food by Katy Holder (Hardie Grant Books, $24.99), one of several picnic cookbooks coming out this summer. Instead of making six separate sandwiches, she takes one large loaf, fills it will all kinds of delicious stuff from the deli of a supermarket and then slices the loaf into sandwiches for six.

To save time, you could buy the grilled vegetables from the prepared foods section of the store or use leftovers. Don’t worry if you can’t find a circular loaf; an oblong loaf works fine. Holder calls for pressing the sandwich for several hours, but that’s optional.

Italian Deli-Stuffed Loaf

1 large red pepper, halved and seeded

1 large zucchini, halved and thinly sliced lengthways

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 round loaf of bread, about 9 inches in diameter

1 to 2 tablespoons pesto

Handful arugula leaves

4 ounces Buffalo mozzarella, sliced

3 1/2 ounces salami or good-quality ham, thinly sliced

Handful basil leaves

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

Heat a grill or broiler to high. Squash the pepper halves to flatten them, then place under the broiler or on a grill, with the skin facing the heat. Grill until the skin is completely blackened. Place in a plastic bag, seal the bag and leave for 15 minutes. Rub or peel off the skin (do not rinse), then cut the pepper into 3/4 inch-wide strips and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium heat. Brush the zucchini slices with oil on each side and grill until softened. (You can cook them under a broiler, too, if that’s all you have.)

Slice off the top of the loaf, about 1 1/4 inches from the top, and reserve this to use as a lid. Hollow out the loaf, leaving about a 3/4 inch border all the way around. (You can use the scooped-out bread to make breadcrumbs.)

Brush the entire inside of the bread and the bottom of the lid with pesto, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the arugula in the base, then top with the grilled zucchini, making an even layer. Top with the mozzarella, then the salami and next the red pepper.

Scatter with the basil leaves and drizzle the extra-virgin olive oil over the top, if you like. Cover with the lid. Wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and put on a plate. Place a second plate on top and put a tin or two on top of the plate to weigh it down slightly. Leave in the fridge for 1 hour, or up to 4 hours, to allow the flavors to develop. Wrap the loaf in a clean tea towel (dish towel) to transport it, and slice into thick wedges to serve. Serves 6 to 8.

— From “A Moveable Feast: Delicious Picnic Food by Katy Holder (Hardie Grant Books, $24.99)

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