Utah FINALLY reached a temperature of above 80 degrees. I don't think it's been that warm since last September...maybe even August. I just can't remember a year so wet and cold. It's time to warm up.
I started thinking picnic. Not like a go on many picnics...ever. I don't know what my deal is. When I was growing up, my friend Kathy and I loved going on picnics. Many times we'd just run across the street with a sack lunch, sit on the grass and have a wonderful time. She was the best friend any girl could have. We were kindred spirits that's for sure. I'm sure my sack lunch consisted of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or bologna with potato chips. Oh ya I used to love potato chips on my bologna sandwich. Now I stay away from potato chips because they are not found in the "super foods" list. Once I find them on that list I will for sure add them to my diet. I gave up bologna years ago.
My pallet has grown up since those lazy childhood days of summer...I think.
This sandwich is perfect for a picnic. You can actually put it into the cooler and not care at all if the sandwich is a little smashed. You want to smash it. This is a compressed sandwich. I use a brick to compress all the goodness together, that's why I started called it "the brick sandwich".
It's actually quite lovely (too much Jane Austen) how the flavors blend together to create one fabulous treat for your mouth. You can make this a day in advance, which is always a good idea.
Let me tell you something else...you can really use whatever tickles your fancy. Meaning- layer on your favorite meats and toppings. I really enjoy the above combination of flavors: Pesto, feta cheese, Peperoncini, roasted red peppers, fresh basil, sandwich pepperoni, thin sliced ham and roast turkey, and one fabulous Ciabatta loaf.
Slice the Ciabatta in half length wise.
If your Ciabatta is thick like mine is, remove some of the bread from the center. .
Not all of the bread, just some.
Spread each side with some of the pesto.
Now layer your favorite deli meats. I'm starting with the roast turkey.
Next layer the ham.
Add the sandwich pepperoni.
I'm like feta, but you can use thin sliced Provolone, Swiss...whatever floats your boat.
I have suddenly become fond of Peperoncini. I like the zing on a sandwich.
Layer the Peperoncini.
You can roast your own peppers if you would like. I'm using purchased roasted bell peppers. You may need to blot the pepper with a paper towel if they are too wet. If you get too much liquid on the sandwich it will go soggy. You don't want that.
Layer on the peppers.
Cover the entire top with fresh basil leaves. The basil will only last a day. After that they wilt and don't look so good, but give fantastic flavor.
Put the lid on it.
I put the loaf on a small cutting board. You don't have to do this, but it helps me get a good compression.
Hopefully you aren't too slim and trim, because you need to put a little weight on this. Take a long piece of plastic wrap and wrap the sandwich loaf to the board. I just put my chest on it and press. (That's not saying a lot, because I haven't got much of a chest) I really try to compress the layers together.
Add more layers of plastic wrap to really compress the sucker.
I just happen to have a couple of bricks from my house left over. I have wrapped them in foil and use the bricks to smash my sandwich. You could easily use a cast iron pan or anything that will weigh down the loaf.
I used two bricks on top and then used more plastic wrap to hold the bricks in place.
You should probably clean your refrigerator and make room for this massive thing.
Refrigerate for at least a few hours. I refrigerate overnight.
The next day unwrap all the plastic wrap from around the sandwich. It generally takes a pair of scissors to cut away all the plastic wrap.
Slice into individual finger sandwiches.
Kind of pretty don't you think? I love the layers of color and the layers of flavor.
Compressed Brick Sandwich
1 Ciabatta loaf, cut in half length wise
3 tablespoons pesto
1/4 pound thin sliced roast turkey
1/4 pound thin sliced ham
1/4 pound thin sliced sandwich pepperoni
1/4 cup feta cheese
Roasted Red Bell Peppers
1 cup fresh basil leaves
Spread pesto on the top and bottom of the ciabatta. On the bottom crust of the ciabatta, layer sliced deli meats. Sprinkle with the feta cheese followed by the peperoncini and roasted peppers. Top with the basil leaves. Cover with top layer of ciabatta. Place the entire loaf on a small cutting board and wrap with plastic wrap around the loaf and cutting board. Place two bricks or a cast iron pan on top of the wrapped loaf. This will weight down the sandwich and compress the ingredients together. I like to use plastic wrap to wrap around the bricks and loaf to hold the bricks tightly in place. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. Remove from the refrigerator. Cut way the plastic wrap and cut into individual sandwiches.
Serves 5-6 depending on the size of the ciabatta
If you are looking to kick up your picnic a notch, just toss in a brick sandwich...leave the brick at home.