Do-ahead picnic sandwich feeds a crowd
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When making a sandwich, like this pressed Italian loaf, ahead of time, be sure moist ingredients do not touch the bread or it will get soggy.
The beauty of a pressed sandwich isn't just that it can be done ahead of time. But that it actually should be done ahead of time. Because this is one of those rare sandwiches that improves with time. And as an added bonus, it also happens to be an excellent way to feed a crowd at a picnic.
Here's how it works: Start by slicing a full loaf of bread in half horizontally. A bit of the insides of each half is removed, then the cut side of each half of the bread is liberally coated with an oil- or other fat-based condiment. This step is key because that fat creates a barrier that helps prevent moist sandwich fillings from making your bread soggy.
After that, you just pile on the fillings and assemble the sandwich. To finish, the sandwich is wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, then foil, then placed in the refrigerator, where it is weighed down. Hence the pressed. The next day, you just unwrap, slice and enjoy.
For our recipe, we used a loaf of oblong Italian bread, but pretty much any shape and variety will work so long as the bread isn't crumbly. And while we used pesto as our moisture barrier, mayonnaise or a cheese spread would work fine, too. And obviously the chicken and salami we call for could be left out or replaced with cheeses or vegetables for a vegetarian version.
The only caution is to pat dry any ingredients that were packed in water, such as roasted red peppers, sliced jalapeños or even fresh mozzarella.
• Alison Ladman is a recipe developer for the AP. Follow her on Twitter @CrustAndCrumbCo
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