Hacking a Group Meal: The Picnic Loaf

Behold the picnic loaf!
Behold the picnic loaf!

Who doesn’t love a sandwich? It’s the ultimate in portable sustenance, infinitely customizable. Yet, occasionally, at least for group, it can be a pain. For starters, you need counter space if you are going to do everything batch-style. You need sandwich bags. You need a certain number of pieces of bread (which sounds silly, but can actually be a problem at my carb-hungry house). For certain family members, one sandwich may be way too much food, while others may go hungry with just one. And there is always the “sandwiches got squished” factor. Enter the picnic loaf, my favorite recent lifehack from across the pond.

A picnic, or sandwich, loaf is basically a huge sandwich, made from a round boule-style bread loaf. You basically make one large sandwich, and you pop it back in the bag the loaf came in, and take it with you *wherever*. You cut it like wedges of pie, which means that not only does it adapt to the “sandwich size” needs of everyone (small for toddlers! large for teenage boys!), but it also requires less prep work and clean up. So don’t slice up that boule to make sandwiches! Picnic loaf it instead!

Picnic LoafHere’s the basic process: you cut the top off of the sandwich boule and scrape out as much of the bread inside as you feel like (you can use it for other stuff later, like making bread pudding, or bread crumbs). Then simply layer in whatever you want your loaf to be chock full of – since the bread is crusty and substantial, you can add more “squishy” contents without worry. For our first attempt, we chopped up olives and cornichons, added sundried tomatoes (as well as a little of their oil), ham, spinach, cheese, and a bit of mayo and mustard. It was as easy as making a sandwich for one person, and maybe even easier, because there was zero spillage. As I added layers, I pushed down on stuff and simply added more. When I got to the top, I popped the loaf top back on, and we were done. All four of us ate and ate and we *still* had leftovers. It was glorious.

What are your go-to picnic or festival foods?

Loafing about,

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