Monday, July 8, 2013

Fourth of July and a Stuffed Summer Sandwich

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July, full of fireworks, cookouts, picnics, and parades! With all the festivities, I was reminded of my favorite "Stuffed Summer Sandwich," which I always take to firework shows, so I don't have to eat the garbage provided by the typical venders. This recipe from Cabin Cooking: Great Food for the Great Outdoors, by Williams-Sonoma, is perfect to make ahead, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate overnight to be sliced just before serving. It's so simple and embodies the best flavors of summer, like home-grown tomatoes and fresh basil, all enshrined in a tapenade-coated sourdough loaf! This is more a technique rather than a recipe, in which you can alter the ingredients to suit your taste. For instance, if you prefer a vegetarian version of this portable sandwich, replace the ham with sliced mozzarella, Monterey jack, or even grilled eggplant. If you don't like red bell peppers, leave them out. It's delicious, beautiful, and hearty enough for any meal on the go!

Stuffed Summer Sandwich

Serves 6


2 large red bell peppers
1 round loaf sourdough or coarse country bread
1 can (6 ounces) pitted black olives, drained
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb thinly sliced baked ham or prosciutto
1 large ripe tomato, thinly sliced
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves or 4-6 leaves of red-leaf lettuce


Preheat your broiler. Cut the bell peppers into quarters and remove the stems, seeds, and ribs. Place the quarters, cut sides down, on a baking sheet and broil about 4 inches below the heat until the skins blacken and blister. Transfer to a paper bag or bowl, close the bag or cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let steam until cool enough to handle. Peel off and discard the skins. Set the peppers aside.

Place the bread on a cutting board and, with the tip of a serrated knife, cut a large circle in the top about 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch from the edge. Pull out the circle of crust and remove all of the bread attached to it to make a lid. Pull out all of the bread from the interior of the loaf, leaving a shell 1/2 inch thick. Set the bread shell and lid aside. (Reserve the pulled-out bread for another use, like Chicken with Bread Bits and Lemon!)

In a blender or food processor, combine the olives, garlic, and olive oil. Process until very smooth. Using a rubber spatula, spread the olive paste around the inside of the bread shell and on the underside of the bread lid. (Alternatively, mince the olives and garlic, place in a small bowl and stir in the olive oil to make a coarse paste. Spread into shell.) Line the bread shell with half of the ham or prosciutto. 

Top with half of the roasted pepper quarters, then half the tomato slices seasoned with salt and pepper, and a few basil leaves or 2-3 lettuce leaves. Use just enough to cover the filling without overlapping too much.

Repeat the layers, ending with basil or lettuce. Replace the bread lid and press down lightly to compact the layers. Cut into wedges and serve.

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