Congratulations! You’ve got a fresh focaccia loaf of epic proportions. Now turn it into the most colossal Italian focaccia sandwich… Layer your mattress-sized bread slices with cured deli meats, cheese, and pesto for the ultimate picnic jaw-dropper.
It is the season for competitive picnicking. Vintage-looking wicker hamper: check. Matching floral blanket and napkins: check. Sustainable bamboo plates and cups: check. Foil-lined cooler bag: check. Sandwiches: … erm?
Blow the competition off the picnic blanket with this most titanic of picnic sandwiches. I’ve stuffed my focaccia sandwich with mild and creamy mortadella slices, spicy salami, soft and chewy mozzarella, roasted red peppers and a healthy spread of basil pesto. It’s a meal in one!
The secret to a good picnic sandwich is structural integrity. Firstly, the bread needs to be robust enough to maintain a sandwich shape and to keep the filling in check.
That’s why I choose focaccia bread. It is sturdy in structure, exactly the right shape for wrapping, beautifully thick and spongy so to absorb any leakages.
Secondly, it’s important to calculate the filling too. Any ingredients that are too wet will result in unpleasant seepage and sogginess. But also, there is nothing more disappointing than a dry sandwich!
This combination of mouth-watering deli meats and moist mozzarella are the perfect match, not forgetting the smear of pesto and juicy roasted red peppers. It’s a tried and tested traveller you can trust.
For more massive combinations to try out on your focaccia loaf, get your chops round these:
Mighty and meaty: Layer leftover hot roast beef with oozy, melty cheese, caramelised onions and sharp horseradish mayo.
Epic BLT: Stack up maple-glazed bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado and a slick of chipotle sauce for a maple BLT that is an incredible balance of sweet and smoky deliciousness.
Vegetarian: Slap some goats cheese and roasted vegetables between your focaccia slices for a jumbo veggie focaccia feast.
Vegan: Scoop a heavily textured chickpea salad with smooth avocado and thinly sliced red pepper on your hunky bread halves.
Off deli meats: Smear a dollop of mayo and layer up roast chicken, lettuce and tomato for a chunky take on a classic.
Recipe tips and notes
- To give the sandwich some slick, I use a tablespoon of basil pesto slathered on the top and bottom slice. Homemade is the ultimate in freshness and can’t be beaten. But if you have an open jar that needs using up, go ahead.
- Mortadella is an unfairly overlooked deli meat. This pale pork sausage is ribboned with fat making it moist, and sometimes pierced with spicy peppercorns and pistachios. Give it a chance!
- However, you can use any cured meat in this sandwich. It’s your sandwich- you make the rules.
- Arugula (rocket in the UK) is a distinctively peppery leaf. More robust in flavour than lettuce or spinach, it brings a dramatic contrast to the mellow mortadella and mozzarella while standing up to the salami.
Storage and leftovers
Thanks to the wonderful gift-like shape of this sandwich, they are easily wrapped. Wrap them tightly so the filling can’t fall out and so no air is trapped inside, then put them in the fridge until tomorrow – picnic day! Or lunchbox day if you’re taking it to work. (So that’s a one-day rule in the fridge.)
More Sandwich Ideas:
- Classic Croque Monsieur
- 15 Minute French Dip Sandwich
- Hot Cheesy Salmon Sandwich
- Ham and Cheese Toastie
- 1 piece focaccia bread (3inch X4inch piece)
- 2 tbsp basil pesto better homemade
- 2 slices mortadella or ham
- 2-3 slices salami
- 25g/1 oz sliced fresh mozzarella
- 1 roasted pepper from a jar or artichokes
- 1 handful arugula/rocket
- Split the focaccia in half lengthwise. Spread the basil pesto on each slice of bread.
- Layer the ingredients in any order you desire. Serve.