Friday 17 February 2017

Vegetarian stuffed picnic loaf

Some things are worth waiting for.  I have wanted to make a stuffed picnic loaf for a long time.  I am glad I waited until I could make my own sourdough loaf to make it with.  I also took great inspiration from Jac's colourfully layered loaf at Tinned Tomatoes.  As usual, I also had some of my own ideas to add.

The idea of stuffing a loaf of bread with cheese and vegies seems convenient for a picnic. I wondered about a vegan version with a layer of cashew cheese but went for the easy dairy option.  I also wasn't sure if this is what is known elsewhere as a muffuletta loaf but Wikipedia says it is made with a focaccia style bread.

I made a favourite sourdough loaf the day before I stuffed it, but I am sure it would have been fine on the same day.  Slicing the top off and pulling out the bread was a nervous moment.  If I got it wrong there was no second loaf to work on.  But it was fine.  Though when I look at photos, I think I could have pulled out a bit more of the innards of the loaf.  I was scared of making a hole but I think I probably could have plugged it if there was a tear.

Planning and layering the fillings was great fun.  I don't have a proper recipe with quantities but have written what I did at the end of the post.  I just used  any of the extra fillings in sandwiches.  There was a bit of preparation work with making the pesto and roasting the pumpkin and eggplant the day before.  The eggplant was roasted until quite well browned and seemed a little crisp when out of the oven but it softened overnight.

It was meant to be pressed in the fridge overnight but there is not much room to pile anything on top in our small fridge.  So I took it out a couple of hours before heading to the picnic and pressed it with a mixing bowl, some tins of beans and some heavy cookbooks.  (In retrospect the mixing bowl was a bit too small on the base to cover all of the loaf.)

Cutting the loaf open made me quite nervous.  I half expected it to fall apart.  But no!  It held together beautifully with gorgeous layers of colour.  I was a proud picnic loaf mama!
I sliced the loaf into wedges but pushed them back together into the loaf shape which I wrapped in roil to take to the picnic dinner before a Grease singalong at Moonlight Cinema.  It felt like very fancy picnic food.  I really loved this though I thought the sundried tomatoes were a bit tough to bit through.  Everything else was lovely and soft.  Maybe semi dried tomatoes might work better. 

E was less impressed.  He told me it was as good as he could expect of soggy bread with eggplant.  When I heated it for dinner the next night he much preferred it.  Though he still tells me it would be better without eggplant.  I was happy with it hot or cold.  Sylvia did not touch it.

The Moonlight Cinema trip was a birthday treat so we bought Golden Grass tickets which meant we had seats near the front on bean bags and could order food from roving waiters.  I had meant to bring cake with us but forgot so we ordered churros.  They were lovely.

We took Sylvia along with us as it wasn't a school night.  She was excited at being up late but fell asleep before the movie ended.  I grew up with a sister who was obsessed with Grease so was very excited at the singalong.  I did cringe a bit at all the sexual innuendo with Sylvia there but had to remember how that sort of stuff went straight over my head when I watched it as a kid.

Seeing the lyrics made me realise that I was singing the wrong words in some songs during all those years of singing along in my youth.  Those were the days before you could look up lyrics online.  I remember the kids dancing on the school oval to "Greased Lightning" at lunchtime and singing it at the school talent quest but never realised that song had so many technical car terms.  The singalong was lots of fun.  It had been too long since I had been at Moonlight cinema and I was glad to be back with my fancy picnic loaf.

I am sending this loaf to Meat Free Mondays.

Some favourite picnic fare on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cashew cheese stuffed dates (gv, v)
Cheese, onion and potato pasties
Dried fruit and coconut balls (gf, v)
Pumpkin damper (v)
Sephardic spinach filo cigars
Tofu nut balls (gf, v)
Vegan salmon sushi (gf, v)

Vegetarian Stuffed Picnic Loaf
Serves 6-8
  • One round loaf of bread - I used sourdough
  • Home made pesto with lots of parmesan cheese in it
  • Fresh baby spinach
  • Roasted eggplant (aubergine) slices
  • Sun dried tomatoes, drained of oil
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Swiss cheese slices
  • Pumpkin roasted in thin slices until soft but not crisp
  • More baby spinach
  • Pickled beetroot from a jar
Slice top off bread and keep lid for later.  Make a bread bowl by pulling out the insides to leave the crust around the edge.  (The innards of the loaf can be turned to breadcrumbs.)

Layer the remaining ingredients inside the bread bowl.  The loaf should be full at the end.  You can do more than one layer of ingredients if not enough.  Once it is full, return lid to the top of the loaf.

Leave in the fridge at least a few hours or overnight with something heavy on it.  (Or if like me you don't have much room in the fridge, leave with a few things on it overnight in the fridge and then take out and press with something heavy for an hour or two before cutting.)  This time out of the fridge also brought it back to room temperature.

To serve at the picnic, I cut it into 6-8 wedges at home , then wrapped in foil and in a bag and took it with us to unwrap at the picnic.  We ate the leftover wedges the next day heated in the oven wrapped in foil for 15 minutes at about 180 C.

*NOTES: The sun dried tomatoes were a bit chewy - maybe semi dried tomatoes next time.

On the Stereo:
Once: original soundtrack by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová


  1. Wow! This is very impressive. I don't think I've even seen a stuffed picnic loaf before; the closest is a stuffed round bread with dip that my Mum used to make.

    Typical of E to turn his nose up at the eggplant - something I can say because Mr Bite would be the same ;)

  2. This looks good Johanna - I think I would be more impressed than E. A Grease sing along sounds fun.

  3. A lovely looking loaf. I would be very intrigued to make one myself.

  4. I made a stuffed picnic loaf many many years ago when I was at Uni in Glasgow. I made it actually for a potluck (before blogging) with new student friends and it was awesome, layered with Med roasted veg. I love the colours of this and indeed it is impressive even if you E was not won over. You have inspired me to try it again, but I think i will wait for the summer.

  5. Haha there was so much that went over our heads as kids. There was stuff that we thought was a bit suss but honestly I'm trying to recall the sexual innuendo in Grease and I really can't remember much lol.

  6. That looks amazing Johanna. I do love a stuffed loaf, although I don't make one often. It's definitely for an outing. It sounds like you had a great time too. What fun x

  7. This is beautiful! I'm a bit inspired to try one myself next time I have a gathering with enough people to eat it. The colours and the layers are just gorgeous - I think cashew cheese would be a wonderful addition.

  8. WOW! That is one super fancy picnic loaf. I haven't ever seen anything like that before, it sounds amazing. Very pretty too, which is tough to do with bread sometimes.
    The singalong sounds fun. I imagine the adult content flew over her head as I think I was around her age when I first saw the movie and didn't notice any of it. It would be so fun to go to that =)

  9. Ah, those layers of colour look terrific!


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