Picnics and summer just go together.
Without much fuss, the Italian Pressed Sandwich works perfectly, adding a bit of panache to a relaxed outdoor meal.
Made in advance, it gets only better with time.
While this recipe includes my favorite ingredients, so many others can be added or substituted. Alternate ingredients to consider might include roasted red pepper, marinated artichoke hearts, tapenade, pickles, red onion or oil, vinegar and oregano.
Ciabatta and Italian loaf breads also would work well.
Cut the focaccia loaf into three equal pieces and then slice each piece in half horizontally.
Spread the pesto on each half of the loaf. Add a handful of arugula, then layer with each of the meats and cheese and top with the peppers. Place the top half of loaf on the sandwich filling.
Wrap and tie each loaf tightly aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Place on a cookie tray and weight down with a cast iron pan or something equally as heavy and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving cut each loaf into thirds.
When serving these, I like to rewrap the loaves in parchment paper. It adds a little style.
Focaccia Bread (Gluten-Free) Yields 1 loaf
3 cups gluten-free flour blend
½ cup powdered milk
3-½ teaspoons xanthan gum
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/3 cups milk, warmed to 110°F
1 cup liquid egg whites (or 6 extra-large egg whites), room temperature
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for shaping and finishing the loaf
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the flour blend, powdered milk, xanthan gum, yeast and salt on medium speed until thoroughly combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the milk, egg whites and oil. (The dough will begin to look somewhat like oatmeal.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl; then increase the speed to high and beat for 3 minutes. (The dough will look like a heavy cake batter.)
Scrape the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Dip your fingers in oil and gently press the dough into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap or a dish towel and place in a warm, draft-free place until the dough rises by an inch or so — about 1 hour. (The dough will rise more quickly if the room is 75°F or warmer.)
While the dough rises, preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush the surface of the dough with olive oil and press your fingers lightly into the dough to create dimples. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and, while still hot, drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary and kosher salt. Serve warm.