stuffed summer sandwich with tapenade
Prep Time:20 minutes
This is portable—that’s the beauty of it. You can eat it at the beach, on a hike, or on your apartment’s fire escape; just be sure to have a serrated knife to slice it. If you want a vegetarian version, replace the ham with fresh mozzarella cheese or grilled sliced eggplant (as shown in photo) or both — or make up your own veggie combinations. If you don’t want to make your own tapenade, buy a jar instead of blending the olives and garlic.
1 round loaf sourdough or other crusty bread (about 1 pound)
1 large jar ( 14-oz) roasted, peeled red bell peppers
1 large can (14-oz) black pitted olives, drained
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large avocado, thinly sliced
1 large ripe tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 pound thinly sliced baked ham, prosciutto or fresh mozzarella, or 1 large Italian eggplant, grilled and sliced (see note below)
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves or several leaves of red leaf lettuce
Place the bread on a cutting board and, with the tip of a serrated knife, cut a large circle in the top about 1-inch in from the edge. Pull out the circle of crust; pull off all the bread attached to it to make a lid. Pull out all the bread from the interior of the loaf, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell. Set bread shell and lid aside. (Reserve pulled-out bread for another use.) Drain the bell peppers and pat dry.
In a blender or food processor, combine the drained olives, garlic, and olive oil; whirl until fairly smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. With a rubber spatula, spread this olive paste all around the inside of the bread shell and the underside of the bread lid. Line the bottom of the bread shell with the roasted peppers then the avocado, then the tomato slices, then the ham, cheese or eggplant, then top with basil leaves or lettuce leaves, being sure to tuck each ingredient into the sides of bread as well as spreading them over the middle. Replace the bread lid and press down lightly to seal the layers. If made ahead, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for a few hours or up to overnight. Cut into wedges with a serrated knife to serve.
note: to use eggplant, cut the eggplant into 1/4-inch-thick slices and brush both sides with olive oil. Grill or broil until just starting to char on both sides, turning once.