Mediterranean gourmet loaf

This easily portable cob loaf can be made up to 12 hours before you leave for a picnic, and your imagination is the only thing limiting what goes inside. This Mediterranean version is packed with grilled and roasted vegetables, layers of prosciutto and soft goat’s cheese. Now you just need to find the perfect spot to eat it.

Serves 8

2 whole red capsicum

1 large onion, halved, skin on

5 cloves garlic, unpeeled

Sea salt

1/3 cup olive oil

2 medium zucchini

1 large eggplant

Round loaf of good-quality white bread

12 slices ham or prosciutto

10-12 baby cornichons or gherkins, thinly sliced

5-7 basil leaves, torn

75g goat’s fetta

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Place capsicum, onion and garlic in a large roasting pan, scatter with sea salt and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until capsicum is charred and tender. Remove from oven, transfer capsicum and garlic to a board. Return onion to oven and cook another 10-15 minutes, until very soft.
  2. Meanwhile, when capsicum is cool enough to handle, peel and remove seeds. Tear or slice capsicum into wide strips and transfer to a bowl. Peel garlic and place in the same bowl. When ready, remove skins from onion, pull apart into bite-sized pieces and add to bowl.
  3. Slice zucchini thinly lengthways and eggplant thinly across ways (about 5 mm thick). Rub lightly with sea salt and drizzle over 1 tablespoon olive oil. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and pan fry zucchini, turning once, until golden on both sides. Transfer to a board. Heat remainder of oil and cook eggplant in batches, turning once, until golden brown and tender on both sides.
  4. Using a small, serrated knife, cut a circle out of the top of the bread loaf, about 1cm in from the top outside edge of the loaf. Carefully remove the top of the bread and use hands to pull out the fluffy inside of the bread.
  5. Layer a couple of eggplant and zucchini slices in the bottom of the loaf, add a little garlic, onion and capsicum, layering each on top of the other. Lay in 2-3 slices of ham or prosciutto, a few slices of cornichons, some basil leaves and a little crumbled goat’s fetta. Add a little of the bread insides, then repeat layers again until loaf is quite full. Replace the top of the loaf, pressing down if necessary.
  6. Wrap the whole loaf tightly in plastic wrap then place in fridge until ready to serve, overnight if preferred (up to 12 hours). Cut into wedges to serve.

Top tip: Consider this recipe as a guide to create your own gourmet loaves, using whatever ingredients you have at hand. A quick combination such as prosciutto, tomato, marinated fetta and fresh herbs is deliciously easy and means you don’t have to pull out the oven gloves.