There is nothing like a sandwich eaten in the sun, on a rug with friends and family with you. But when it comes to picnics sometimes the prep can take as long as the eating! You also don’t want to have to worry about carrying lots of boxes to your quiet corner in an effort to stop your food getting squashed. Which is why this Rainbow Picnic Loaf recipe is a summer dining godsend. It’s easy to eat with your hands and takes less time to prep than boxes of individual sandwiches. In fact, this loaf is better for being crushed by the other picnic foods! But best of all the filling to bread ratio means you can pack a nutritional punch easily and in a tasty way.
We are always being told to ‘eat the rainbow’ and for good reason. The photochemicals which colour fruit and vegetable are often linked health benefits, for example yellow indicates they are rich in lutein which is very important for eye health. Red indicates lycopene which is an antioxidant linked to preventing cancer and heart attacks. That’s not to say a single-coloured fruit or vegetable only has one phytochemical – and all will contain additional vitamins and minerals. By consuming a wide range of colours you will increase the amount of nutrients you are eating and the additional benefits for your health.
This dish uses lots of pre-prepared veggies so you can throw it together quickly, but if you would prefer to roast your own vegetables it works just as well. If you are vegan then swap the mozzarella for some baked tofu or seitan.
400g round loaf of sourdough bread
1 beef tomato, sliced into fine rounds
4 large pieces of drained ready roasted peppers from a jar (around 2 whole peppers)
1 jar ready roasted aubergine, drained
1 large ball mozzarella, drained and sliced
1 large handful of baby spinach
A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
30g stoned and sliced black olives
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Fresh black pepper and salt
Finely slice the shallots and marinade in a tablespoon of red wine vinegar while you prep the rest of the loaf. This softens them and the flavour.
Slice your loaf in half horizontally – like it’s a giant bun. Pull out most (though not all!) of the inner bread so you are left with a pretty hollow loaf. Save this bread for breadcrumbs or to make salad croutons!
Starting with the black olives on the base, layer on the aubergine, lightly pickled shallots, grind of salt and pepper then then spinach, basil, mozzarella, peppers, more salt and pepper and finally the tomato. Place the top back onto the loaf and tightly wrap in cling film.
If you are taking this to a picnic then pack everything else on top of the loaf so it’s crushed for a couple of hours before eating. If you are dining at home then place something heavy on your wrapped loaf and leave out of the fridge for a couple of hours before eating.
To serve simply cut the loaf into triangle slices from the middle, as if you were cutting a round cake.
If you are a sandwich lover then these swaps will help make your fave healthier. These easy tips will help you get the most out of your veggies. And find out if organic produce is really worth the extra cost.