Talk about picnic centre piece! This stuffed loaf, inspired by the Italian muffuletta, a loaf traditionally stuffed with layers of cured meats, cheese and vegetables, is a total flavour bomb and also looks rather stunning once you cut through the many layers of this "sandwich cake".
My veggie version gets extra oomph from smoked mozzarella (scarmoza) which adds a wonderful smokiness, though normal mozzarella will also do, while the Dusty Knuckle Bakery's fantastic potato sourdough, once hollowed out, offers the perfect "shell" for layer upon layer of roast veg, cheese, fresh herbs and tapenade.
Even better, once assembled you simply add your bread lid, wrap the finished stuffed loaf in cling film and chill it in the fridge, ideally leaving it for about an our hour so, so that all the different flavours and layers really infuse and marry together.
The muffuletta travels without risk of spillage to any picnic or dinner party destination and once sliced up into rustic quarters not only looks rather impressive but tastes pretty out of this world. If you want to impress at a picnic with minimal actual cooking I cannot recommend this total gem enough.
One last tip get your bread right (aka your trusted bakery of choice and bought fresh on the day), invest in good quality cheese and hit your local deli for all the other bits and this muffuletta will never fail to impress!
- 1 aubergine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 loaf of sourdough bread (I adore the potato sourdough from the Dusty Knuckle Bakery)
- 1/4 cup olive tapenade (I used this sun-dried tomato and olive tapenade from Waitrose)
- A bunch of basil
- 1 heirloom tomato
- 1 jar roasted peppers
- 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
- 1 ball fresh smoked mozzarella (scarmoza) or normal mozzarella
- 3 cups baby lettuces, torn
- Cut the aubergine into slices.
- Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Heat a griddle pan over high heat.
- Cook the aubergine until tender, about 4 minutes per side.
- Remove from heat to cool.Carefully cut the top of the bread off using a serrated knife angled downward.
- Scoop out the inside of the bread top and bottom to create a crusty bread shell.
- Save the inside for breadcrumbs.
- Spread the bottom and top of the bread with a layer of olive tapenade.
- Layer the basil, vegetables, and mozzarella inside the bread, pressing them in firmly.
- Pile the greens on top and cover with the top piece of bread.
- Try to fill the sandwich with as much of the veggies as possible.
- Wrap with plastic or parchment and refrigerate for one hour or until ready to eat.
- Cut crosswise into sandwich slices to serve.