This is a wonderful sandwich to take along on picnics, hikes or in the lunchbox. This is sandwich that is prepared ahead of time and the flavors are allowed to meld and mellow. Filling and full of flavors this vegetarian version is vegan friendly as well.
I bake quite a lot of bread – in summer my baking pattern changes. It will be reserved for once a week or so when the temperatures are low (we are lucky that way) – but I will be baking in bulk. Chances are that I have a few loaves of crusty bread and a couple sandwich breads done in that time.
This is wonderful way to use up extra crusty bread that is a day old (drying out), without freezint it. It is a vegetarian version and often times I make these vegan . It is low in calories and perfectly fits into a day at the beach or even if you were hiking up in the mountains. I would definitely make a vegan version when hiking, coz I hate t o take ice packs along.
The idea is simple – hollow out a crusty loaf and fill with grilled vegetables and sauce. Close it , wrap tightly and place a weight on it . This is left in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. The fillings sandwich together perfectly and the flavors meld together to make an incredible picnic food. Cut into int and you can see the distinct bright layers.
I have made these for school lunches too, and they are better received than paninis.
There are many versions of this loaf and this here is one of the basic version . Here is how to make a picnic loaf in pictures .
Usually I make one large loaf and slice as needed. You can make individual servings as well – Ciabatta rolls are perfect here.
Slice this before leaving on your picnic and tightly wrap.
What to do with the scooped out bread ?
Pulse in the blender to make coarse bread crumbs and freeze is my choice. Use as needed.
You can tear it into smaller pieces and layer in the sandwich as well. This is a good option if you suspect that there is a lot of moisture in the fillings.
The picnic loaf is visually appealing, convenient, and delicious. There is a good amount of filling there, and nothing is out of place. One great way to stuff all your sandwich cravings into one easily transportable loaf !
Picnic loaves are an easy and delicious way to enjoy a day out. It is a make ahead sandwich that is perfect for lunch boxes as well. The sandwich is is assembled ahead of time ans the flavors are allowed to meld and mature.
- 3 - 4 Bell Peppers (Mix of colors) Medium
- 1 Sweet Onion
- 1 Italian Squash
- 1 Eggplant
- 2 Tbsp Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Crusty loaf of bread Day Old
- Mozzarella As Needed See Notes
- 3 tbsp Ready-made pesto or Vegan pesto See recipe below
- 1 C Parsley Leaves
- ½ C Fresh basil large stems removed
- ¼ C Cashew nuts Or sunflower seeds for nut free version !
- 1 Clove Garlic large
- 2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/4 Tsp Fine Sea Salt To taste
- 1 -2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast See Notes
- 2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil Extra Virgin/Cold Pressed
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180° C).
- Remove the stem and seed s from the peppers and slice length wise into strips about 1” in width. Slice the eggplant and Italian squash into long strip about the same thickness as the peppers. Peel and slice onions into thick rounds.
- Place all the chopped vegetables in a bowl and drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat all the vegetables in the oil. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until the vegetables are softened, about 15 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches.
- Cut the top off the loaf to create a lid.
- Hollow out the loaf by scooping out the soft bread and leaving an edge of around 1 inch.
- Spread the insides of the loaf with pesto. And layer the cheese . If needed place the load under the broiler for about 1 minute to melt the cheese.
- Layer the vegetables over the bread – keeping them as distinct layers. Repeat until the loaf is full . Place the lid back on. Tightly wrap with a plastic wrap and place in the fridge with a weight on top of it. Chill for 4 hours to overnight.
- Slice and serve.
- Place the basil, parsley , cashew nuts, and garlic in a food processor or blender. Pulse to combine, until the mixture is coarsely ground.
- Add the oil and blend on low until incorporated . Add sea salt, pepper, lemon, and nutritional yeast, in batches , pulse , taste and adjust to taste .
- If the veggies are watery – layer the hollowed out bread chunks between the layers of veggies.
- Leaving it pressed in the fridge overnight helps the fillings stick together better.
- Different colored peppers, portobello mushrooms and squashes are other good veggies in this sandwich .
- I like a mix of parsley and basil in the pesto. Adjust to your taste.
- Leave out the cheese for vegan version or use vegan cheese.
- If making the Vegan Pesto use the nutritional yeast for the cheese flavor.