The mega muffuletta

The longer this share-friendly sandwich loaf sits, the better it becomes.
The longer this share-friendly sandwich loaf sits, the better it becomes. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Dietary
Kid-friendly

Sandwiches that require sitting are the answer to picnic perfection. And in the case of this guy, the longer it sits (within reason), the better it becomes. It's also one of the easiest ways to feed a crowd. I've cut through the New Orleans sandwich's meat-on-meat layers with fresh mozzarella and pesto. And I've blitzed the traditional diced olives into a tapenade – this allows the flavour to ooze into the bread, with far less bits and bobs to get stuck in your teeth.

Ingredients

Olive tapenade

¾ cup pitted kalamata olives

2 piquillo peppers (marinated red capsicums)

¼ cup olive oil

¼ red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic

1 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste

1 tbsp chopped oregano

Basil and lemon pesto

1 clove garlic, chopped

large bunch of fresh basil, leaves pulled

50g pinenuts, toasted

4 tbsp olive oil (you may need more if pesto is a little thick)

50g parmesan

To assemble

1 x large loaf of bread (ciabatta or sourdough work well)

½ cup smoked semi-dried tomatoes

generous ½ cup basil and lemon pesto

100g salami

100g mild sopressa salami

100g prosciutto

175g mozzarella, sliced into 1cm thick slices

¾ cup olive tapenade

Method

1. To make the olive tapenade add all ingredients to a blender and pulse briefly. Season with salt and pepper and pulse again if needed – you want a slightly runny tapenade type consistency. Set aside (this makes slightly more than you need).

2. Rinse out the blender and add the ingredients for the pesto. Blitz, adding more olive oil if required, until a chunky pesto consistency is achieved. Don't overwork the pesto – pulse briefly until the ingredients just come together. Set aside.

3. Using a serrated knife, remove the top of the loaf lengthways, and set aside – this will become the lid. Using your hands, pull some of the bread filling from the centre of the loaf, until you only have a little bread and mostly crust remaining.

4. Arrange the semi-dried tomatoes in a single layer across the base. Don't try to drain the oil, the little residual oil soaks beautifully into the bread. Top with generous spoonfuls of pesto, and using the back of a spoon, smear the pesto over the tomato layer. Layer the cured meats across the top of the pesto. Don't worry about being particular, you just want it to look relatively even.

5. Top with the mozzarella slices in a single layer then dollop over the olive tapenade. Gently sandwich with the 'lid' of the loaf. Place a chopping board on top of the loaf and stack with a few cookbooks or whatever you have handy, to put a little pressure on the bread. You don't want it to flatten but you want some pressure so the ingredients compress within the loaf and all the flavoured oils spread through the sandwich.

6. When ready to serve, use a serrated knife and cut the loaf into generous slices – at least 5cm thick – the slices need to be thick so the filing doesn't collapse everywhere. If using a round loaf, slice into generous wedges instead.