When I'm in charge of bringing lunch to a picnic or tackling lunch duty for the whole family, my game plan is tried, true, and most importantly, simple: one sandwich that's big enough to feed everyone. And right now, in the spirit of celebrating ripe summer produce, this version gets its inspiration from one of my favorite fresh salads.
Everything you love about caprese salad — the sweet slices of ripe tomato, creamy mozzarella, and fresh, fragrant basil leaves — is exactly what you'll find layered in this summertime sandwich. And for an extra punch of flavor, there's a thick spread of basil pesto on each side of the bread. You can keep things simple with a store-bought pesto, or if you're feeling up to it, go for homemade.
To get started, put away the sliced bread and rolls — we're going bigger. Instead, go for a big round loaf (sometimes called a boule), about eight inches wide. I particularly love a hearty country loaf or tangy sourdough for this recipe, but any variety will work.
The trick to building this big sandwich is all about how you prep the bread. We all love a good dose of carbs, but it's the filling that's really the star of this show, and we want to make it stand out. After halving the loaf of bread, you'll want to scoop out the soft interior of the bread, leaving just a thin-walled crust behind.
Get a Step-by-Step Recipe: How To Make a Sandwich for a Crowd
Caprese Sandwich for a Crowd
Serves 8 to 10
large round bread loaf or boule (about 8 inches in diameter)
pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut to 1/4-inch-thick slices
large, ripe tomatoes, cut to 1/4-inch-thick slices
fresh basil leaves
Cut the bread in half horizontally. Hollow out and remove most of the soft interior of the bread from each half and save for another use, like DIY breadcrumbs.
Spread the cut sides of the bread with the pesto. Layer half of the mozzarella, half of the tomato, and half of the basil inside the bread bottom. Repeat with the remaining mozzarella, tomato, and basil. Place the top on the sandwich, tightly wrap the sandwich in 2 layers of plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
If you prefer a warm sandwich, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Wrap the sandwich with aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake just until the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Cut the sandwich into wedges and serve immediately.
Easy serving: Cut the sandwich at home, then rewrap for easy serving at the park or picnic.
Make ahead: This sandwich can be made 1 day in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
Storage: Tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator, leftovers will last up to 3 days.