This weekend we actually have a whole free day with no commitments or duties to eat up the time. So, whatever the weather, I think a summer picnic is in order. It is nearly the end of term, after school activities finish this week and Sunday will mark to start of a slower (OK, maybe not slower but certainly different) pace to life.
My go-to recipe for picnics comes courtesy of Rachel Allen, the Irish chef and business woman who figures high on my list of ‘women I’d like to be more like’!
Here’s my version of her Muffleta, or stuffed loaf as it is generally known in our house.
Cut the red onion into wedges and toss in olive oil in a roasting tray. Pop the tray in a hot oven until the onions are soft and slightly charred at the edges. Remove and set to one side to cool.
Meanwhile, carefully slice off the top of the loaf (keep the lid) and scoop out the inside. I usually blitz the insides to breadcrumbs and put them in the freezer to use another day. Not only is this handy the next time you need breadcrumbs but it also make you feel like a total Domestic Goddess.
Mix a couple of spoons of pesto with a spoon of olive oil and brush it all over the inside of the loaf. Then, once the onions are cool, begin layering all your ingredients into your bread container. The order is up to you – maybe try salami, onion, capers, ham, peppers, goats cheese, tapenade, rocket…keep repeating the layers until the loaf is full. You need to pack it quite tightly to avoid a disintegration incident when you cut it later.
Place the bread lid on top and wrap the whole thing in cling film. Put it on a plate and weight it down with some tins or weights. Put your wrapped, weighted loaf in the fridge, I usually leave mine in overnight to make sure it is nice and firm.
When the day of your picnic dawns, remove the loaf from the fridge and unwrap. Pack a good knife (serrated is best) in your basket and you are good to go. Cut the loaf into wedges and serve. It looks so pretty with multi coloured layers and tastes really delicious.
We’ll be tucking into ours this weekend!