The Best Picnic Sandwich Ever

6 Oct

Sandwich09This is not your regular sandwich. This is The Sandwich. It’s so wonderfully great for picnics, tailgate parties, pre-concert snacks—basically, it’s your best bet for a portable meal.

And, might I add, it’s awesome.

I’m featuring this recipe for a few reasons: First, we’re having such unseasonably warm weather here in California, it may as well be summer and perfect for picnicking. Second, it’s football season and I hear a lot of people go in for that. The Sandwich would rock a Monday Night Football Party, or weekend game party, for sure. Lastly, it’s so good I don’t want to keep the recipe to myself.

Sandwich11It’s certainly not Paleo, unless you can find/make some Paleo bread in a size worthy of this sandwich. And even though I’ve taken this recipe loosely from The Vegetarian Times, I’ve added some meat. (Vegetarians/vegans, you know what to do. Omit and substitute!)

Every time there’s some sort of [name event] in a park where people will be bringing food to eat or share, The Husband asks for The Sandwich. Usually, The Sandwich has taken so long to make, but luckily this last time I was asked to make it as we were outside Via Maestra 42, a Italian restaurant/deli on Upper State Street here in Santa Barbara.

Sandwich06I clocked some grilled zucchini and eggplant behind the counter and bought it all. That saved a huge amount of time, because grilling up a bunch of veggies after meticulously slicing them thin on a mandoline isn’t easy, nor is it quick. Especially when you’ve got to be careful because you and the mandoline have had a little history together. Yes, I’ve learned to respect the mandoline. It bites.

Sandwich03The cheese I usually use for The Sandwich is an Italian soft cheese made from sheep, goat and cow’s milk called La Tur. It’s so delicious, but you can use whichever kind of cheese you like best, even firmer cheeses, just make sure you get enough to make a full, hefty layer in the bread you choose.

At Via Maestro 42, I also found this delectable spread from Tutto Calabria, a spicy tapenade of sorts. I think this is it, but mine is in English and everything on this site is in Italian! It gave The Sandwich a nice kick, but the original recipe just called for pesto, which is what I usually use. Another good substitute would be a mushroom paté, like a duxelle, if you’ve got that laying around.

This is a make-ahead dish, and is best after sitting overnight, so please do plan ahead, especially if you’re doing the grilled vegetables yourself.

The Sandwich is best shared, mainly because it’s large. But be careful if you taste it before going to the event. You may pretend to be ill and sit in a dark room and finish the thing off by yourself. Yes, you’ll feel sick from both the lies and eating all that food, but mainly you’ll be very, very happy.

The ingredients list is going to be pretty loosey-goosey here, because I’ve got no idea how big the loaf of bread you’re going to buy is. Actually, it’s hard to predict what size bread I’m going to find, so just buy more than you think you’ll need, as most of the ingredients go well in other things, like a pasta sauce, for instance.

The Sandwich

1 large ciabatta loaf
1 jar olive tapenade
1 jar pesto, mushroom paté or pepper spread
1 jar marinated, grilled bell peppers
1-2 large zucchini*, sliced thin lengthwise and grilled
1 medium eggplant*, sliced thin lengthwise and grilled
1/4-1/2 lb. Italian sliced meats, like prosciutto, coppa, salami
1-2 wheels of La Tur cheese, or other soft cheese (a triple-cream brie would be great!)
A bunch of arugula or spinach

Cut the ciabatta in half through the center, like you would any roll for a sandwich. Hollow out the inside of the bread a bit, leaving a fairly substantial crust.

Cover one half of the bread with a generous layer of tapenade, and the other with the pesto/paté.

Sandwich01Then start building the sandwich on the bottom half of the bread. Start with your meats, covering the bread with an even layer.

Sandwich04Then cover the meat with your cheese.

Sandwich05 Sandwich07Start layering your grilled zucchini and eggplant, then the peppers on top of those.

Sandwich08Lastly, cover the peppers with your leafy greens, as thick as you can. Then put the lid on your sandwich, as carefully as possible. Press down firmly.

You might need some help with this last bit. You’re going to need to wrap this bad boy in a serious amount of plastic wrap. Feel free to wrap it in parchment paper first, but then mummify The Sandwich in some serious plastic sheeting. This will stop it from leaking all over your fridge.

Once you get it hermetically sealed, place on a cutting board or in a large baking tray and carefully weight it down. I’ve used Le Creuset pots filled with cans of beans, or even another baking tray with canned goods or cookbooks on top. The Sandwich likes the pressure, don’t worry. Find room for it in the fridge and keep the weight on it all night.

The Sandwich can be sliced beforehand (but then you might taste a bit, and not attend the event—don’t say you weren’t warned) or just bring a bread knife to the event and slice it there. Then you can have a dramatic unveiling of The Sandwich, which is quite satisfying. That is, for the five minutes before it completely disappears, devoured by all your friends like something off a Discovery Channel show on hyenas of the Serengeti.


* Courgette and aubergine, for my foreign readers. Although they probably knew that already.


37 Responses to “The Best Picnic Sandwich Ever”

  1. tlow2323 October 6, 2013 at 5:10 pm #


    • tinykitchenstories October 6, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

      Thank you!! Super easy, great for sharing. Although you might have to make two–one for Kevin and one for everyone else! 😉

  2. tlow2323 October 6, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    Reblogged this on Tracy's Blog and commented:

  3. Vanessa October 6, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    Great looking sandwich! Pesto and tapenade especially sound amazing.

    • tinykitchenstories October 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      Thank you! It can so easily be made vegetarian too. I appreciate the comment!

  4. bec {daisy and the fox} October 6, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    yum!! this sounds soooo good! a combination of everything delicious!
    as a total sandwich lover i am definitely going to have to give this a go! 🙂

    • tinykitchenstories October 6, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

      Wow, thanks! Let me know how you like it if you do! And if you make any yummy variations…

  5. girlinafoodfrenzy October 6, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    Epic sandwich, epic munching and delicious picnicking! I knew I had to come and check this out when I saw the title! If ever we get to go on a picnic together, you can bring the sandwich and I’ll bring along the roast, lol!

    • tinykitchenstories October 7, 2013 at 9:33 am #

      ABSOLUTELY! That would be an epic picnic, for sure. My mouth’s watering already! Can’t wait to see your spring and summer dishes. Hopefully it will cool down around here so I can finally cook for autumn! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  6. lucylox October 6, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    Wow, that is The Sandwich – it looks divine (minus the meat!) a kind of Italian vibe pan bagnat. Can you send a slice over for lunch? It looks far more tasty that my cheese and pickle sitting in the fridge!! X

    • tinykitchenstories October 7, 2013 at 9:32 am #

      Thanks Lucy! And I’ll send some right over. (If The Husband will let any go!) 😉

  7. The Mouse October 6, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

    Definite yum. I was thinking maybe some leftover porchetta?

    • tinykitchenstories October 7, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      WOW. That would be great! BTW, Mouse, did you read my last post with the pork belly? That was just for you! 🙂

    • tinykitchenstories October 7, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      Wait, you have *leftover* porchetta? 😉

      • The Mouse October 7, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

        Must be planned in advance. Insure enough for immediate consumption and a bit set aside in advance. Ta dah! Leftover porchetta. 🙂
        If unplanned, all bets are off. Hee hee.

  8. talonsheart October 7, 2013 at 4:59 am #

    Can’t go wrong with p. mushrooms! Love this… must try it! thanks 😀 Finally have a couple of places that sell great breads so I can make it JUST like this… well…. you’d make it better… but I’ll try!!!

    • tinykitchenstories October 7, 2013 at 9:30 am #

      I don’t think you can go wrong with this recipe, so go for it! I hope you and G like it! xo

  9. rose October 7, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    T.J.’s has a pkg. w/grilled eggplant and zucchini – very good, in the freezer section.

    • tinykitchenstories October 7, 2013 at 9:29 am #

      Good to know! They also have the grilled bell peppers in a jar that I use for this. Thanks for the tip! (And that’s Trader Joe’s, for those not familiar with TJ’s!)

  10. An Unrefined Vegan October 8, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    THAT, my dear, is gorgeous. All I had to see was olive tapenade.

    • tinykitchenstories October 8, 2013 at 11:39 am #

      I think you’d like the spicy pepper paste too. Just gave the tapenade a lovely kick! And thank you!!

    • tinykitchenstories October 8, 2013 at 11:40 am #

      Oh, and I bet some of your homemade vegan cheese would rock this sandwich!!

  11. lorrielorrieb October 8, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    Ah that’s gorgeous! I want one NOW.

  12. Mama's Gotta Bake October 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    That’s truly the most awesome sandwich I’ve ever seen! I’m makin’ that one!

    • tinykitchenstories October 9, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      Thank you so much! I’m sure you’ll whip up some homemade ciabatta which will make The Sandwich ultra-luxe!!!

  13. thegrubbyhen October 10, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    I have sandwich envy! I’m actually drooling right now. And CHEESE! love it.

    • tinykitchenstories October 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      Thank you so much! And that cheese really makes The Sandwich. The best part is licking the cheese off your fingers after you’ve spread it on the sarnie…! 🙂

      • thegrubbyhen October 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

        Lol, indeed! I did that tonight with goats cheese, yum!

  14. dedy oktavianus pardede October 11, 2013 at 5:38 am #

    La tur cheese it’s a fancy and picey over here…
    i guess since it’s picnic, i think the healty sandwich is just perfect for it..
    i love the way you put the grilled pepperf for the stuffing!

    • tinykitchenstories October 11, 2013 at 11:53 am #

      It’s not easy to find here either, and usually pricey! But there’s a lot of other cheeses that will work. The grilled peppers give it a lovely flavor. I hope you make it some time!

  15. Michelle October 3, 2016 at 9:22 am #

    I don’t eat pork.. any suggestions on a substitute meat ?

    • tinykitchenstories October 4, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

      A smoked turkey would be nice, and honestly, just veggies and cheese is delicious! I’ve made it with meat and without, and both are wonderful. Thanks for the comment!


  1. PB & Apple Snackin’ Sandwich | Fearless Food & Fitness - October 7, 2013

    […] The Best Picnic Sandwich Ever ( […]

  2. PB & Apple Snackin’ Sandwich | Fearless Food + Fitness - December 4, 2013

    […] The Best Picnic Sandwich Ever ( […]

Does it make you hungry, baby?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: