The Largest, Most Delicious Sandwich Ever!
Mamma Mia! La Schiacciata!
If you've ever enjoyed a true Italian panino pressed between two hot metal grille plates to squish all of the ingredients into the bread, you've only just had the junior version of the true southern Italian classic, La Schiacciata (The Squished), or the Brick-Pressed Italian Sandwich.
Unlike the panini, La Schiacciata is not heated at all. It is served at room temperature, but after a weighting process which imbues the bread all the way through with all of the intense herbal and vegetable flavours of the savoury goodness inside. It sets my mouth watering just to think about it.
First of all, understand that there is no way to make La Schiacciata for one or even two people, no matter how ravenous you are. This is strictly party food as you can't cut the recipe in half.
The single most important thing is to find an Italian bakery that has huge round or ovoid crusty Calabrese or Pugliese loaves weighing at least two pounds. Larger is always better. You want the loaf to be very heavy for the size, chewy-spongy on the inside and borderline burnt on the outside. That classic southern Italian type of bread makes for the best La Schiacciata. If you're completely stuck and can't possibly find that bread in your area, get the biggest, heaviest San Francisco-type sourdough round loaf you can find or perhaps a gargantuan ciabatta.
Cut your loaf in half as if you were making the world's biggest burger bun. Now you're ready for the ingredients:
1 cup tapenade (recipe follows)
1 lb. zucchini a scapece (recipe follows)
1 lb. jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 lb. crumbled feta cheese (you may substitute chevre or ricotta)
1 lb. marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 lb. San Daniele Prosciutto, extremely thinly sliced
1/2 lb. peppered genova or napoli salami, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. fine balsamic vinegar, preferably aged at least three years
1 Tbsp. fine Dijon mustard
About 25 fresh large basil leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice from half a lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
The recipes that go into La Schiacciata are very simple.
Tapenade: Get one cup of large Italian marinated green olives with the pits removed. Turn into a paste in a food processor with a little salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of cayenne.
Zucchini A Scapece: Slice 1 lb. zucchini, fry them in vegetable oil until soft and beginning to brown. Drain. Toss into a bowl with a large bunch of mint leaves, coarsely chopped. Mix in salt, pepper about 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar and fresh diced garlic to taste. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.
Spread the tapenade evenly on the inside part of the bottom half, then start layering the ingredients. Doesn't matter in which order. Just make sure that they are evenly spread out. Then mix the lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a cup and just sprinkle lightly over the entire surface. Salt and pepper the whole spread. Now spread the Dijon mustard evenly on the inside part of the top half. Put the top on and you have your sandwich. But beware, it's not La Schiacciata yet!
Wrap the enormous sandwich tightly in plastic wrap, sealing all edges well. Set a couple of bricks or a barbell weight on top and set in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, and 12 hours is better yet. When ready to serve, get it back to room temperature, unwrap and slice into as many pieces as you want. Enjoy!