This recipe for Stuffed Picnic Loaf is a great make ahead recipe for a party, a picnic, a day on the boat, or a day at the pool. It transports well if you cut the loaf into wedges before you leave home and then re-wrap the whole loaf in foil.
1 large loaf of unsliced round bakery bread
Sliced cheese (I usually use provolone, but use whatever you prefer)
Assorted sliced lunch meats (I use salami and turkey)
Romaine lettuce leaves
1 tomato, thinly sliced
Olive salad: (optional, you could use olive oil or mustard instead)
½ cup pimento-stuffed green olives, finely chopped
½ cup black olives, finely chopped
1/8 cup light olive oil
2 Tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano or basil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Prepare the olive salad by combining the olives, olive oil, parsley, seasoning and lemon juice in a medium sized bowl. Mix and set aside while you prepare the loaf.
Starting about 2 inches from the edge, cut a round circle, about 1 inch deep in the top of the unsliced, round bakery bread. Use your fingers to gently pry off this circle of bread, save this top. Using one hand, pull out the majority of the soft bread inside the loaf, while keeping the crust of the bread intact. You are removing the bread to make room for the meat and cheese. The bread you remove can be discarded or served as part of an appetizer with a soft cheese spread or a spinach dip.
Layer the inside of this bread bowl with your choice of meats, cheese or grilled veggies (see below). In order to prevent the bread from getting soggy, place the cheese on the bottom, then the lunch meat, then about 2 Tablespoons of the olive salad, a few more slices of cheese, then the tomatoes which have blotted with a paper towel and then the lettuce. Fill the bread bowl to the top with these items and replace the bread circle. Wrap the stuffed picnic loaf tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil and refrigerate with a heavy object on top to help compress the sandwich. I usually place the foil wrapped loaf on a plate, place another plate on top and then put in the refrigerator with several heavy cans on top. Refrigerate for at least 3 or up to 12 hours.
To serve, remove foil and cut into pie shaped wedges. I usually place frilly toothpicks at intervals around the bread before cutting so that each wedge will be held together by a toothpick.
Veggie Lovers Stuffed Picnic Loaf
Prepare the same as above, except replace the lunch meats with grilled veggies. I like to brush veggies such as sliced zucchini, sliced red peppers, and sliced red onions with olive oil, salt and pepper and grill until tender crisp. You can do this on the grill or use a panni maker or George Foreman Grill to do this. You can also sauté them on the stove.
Serves 6-8 depending on the size of bread that you use