Pesto, pepper and mozzarella stuffed loaf

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This is a lovely make ahead recipe for a picnic loaf, using a simple cob or any round white loaf. Simply hollow out the loaf and fill with layers of delicious Mediterranean ingredients for the perfect picnic centrepiece.

Ingredients

1 white cob, or round loaf
1 garlic clove
Pinch salt
40-50g fresh basil leaves
25g pine nuts, cashew nuts or almonds (or a combination)
30g pecorino
40g parmesan
40-50ml extra virgin olive oil
2 courgettes
1 red onion, sliced
Fresh mozzarella
Jar of roasted peppers
Jar of roasted tomatoes

Method

Start by making the fresh pesto, using a pestle and mortar, small mixer or blender. Peel the garlic clove and add it to the pestle and mortar with a good pinch of salt. Bash it once, then tear the basil leaves and add, grinding down with the garlic clove. Add in the pine nuts and continue to crush. Grate the cheeses into the pesto and slowly add to the pesto, stirring to mix.

Take the courgettes, cut them in half and thinly slice. Roast in the oven or on the stove top in with a drizzle of oil for a couple of minutes until nicely golden, turning once to ensure they are cooked on both sides. Once browned, remove to a sheet of kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.

Use the same pan to fry the thinly sliced onions until slightly softened and remove to kitchen paper again.

Cut a small section out of the top of the loaf to make a lid. Take out the middle of the loaf, leaving some bread on the sides, don’t hollow it out completely, just enough to make enough space for the layers of ingredients. Keep the hollowed out bread to make breadcrumbs for another day.

Line the bread with the homemade pesto, making sure it goes into the corners. Follow that with a layer of the cooked courgettes, pressing them into to compact them. Sprinkle with a little salt then layer in the roast tomatoes and peppers, pressing them down before adding the mozzarella, thinly sliced. Lastly add the fried onions as the top layer. Finish with a little pesto and press down all the layers.

When all the layers are compressed, replace the lid on the loaf, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight.

To serve, cut into wedges for an instant sandwich.

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