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Stuffed Summer Sandwich

If you prefer a vegetarian version of this portable sandwich, replace the ham with sliced mozzarella, Monterey jack cheese or grilled eggplant. The loaf can be covered in plastic wrap, refrigerated overnight and sliced just before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 1 round loaf sourdough or coarse country bread
  • 1 can pitted black olives, drained
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. thinly sliced baked ham or prosciutto
  • 1 large ripe tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves or 4 to 6 leaves
      of red-leaf lettuce

Directions:

Preheat a broiler.

Cut the bell peppers into quarters and remove the stems, seeds and ribs. Place the quarters, cut sides down, on a baking sheet and broil about 4 inches below the heat until the skins blacken and blister. Transfer to a paper bag and seal; let steam until cool enough to handle. Peel off and discard the skins. Set the peppers aside.

Place the bread on a cutting board and, using the tip of a serrated knife, cut a large circle in the top about 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch from the edge. Pull out the circle of crust; remove all of the bread attached to it to make a lid. Pull out all of the bread from the interior of the loaf, leaving a shell 1/2 inch thick. Set the bread shell and lid aside. (Reserve the pulled-out bread for another use.)

In a blender or food processor, combine the olives, garlic and olive oil and process until fairly smooth. Using a rubber spatula, spread the olive paste around the inside of the bread shell and on the underside of the bread lid. (Alternatively, mince the olives and garlic, place in a small bowl and stir in the olive oil to make a coarse paste. Spread the olive paste on the bottom of the bread shell.) Line the bread shell with half of the ham. Top with half of the roasted pepper quarters, then half of the tomato slices and a few basil leaves. Use just enough to cover the filling without overlapping too much. Repeat the layers, ending with basil. Replace the bread lid and press down lightly to compact the layers. Cut into wedges and serve. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Complete Outdoor Living Cookbook, edited by Chuck Williams (Weldon-Owen, 2002).