Al Fresco Bread
Original recipe. Please note than quantities cannot be exact, as much will depend on the size of your bread! Do make sure that the ingredients are as dry as possible, as one wants to prevent a soggy bottom. Always start the filling with the driest ingredient, as a buffer against the inevitable juices! Use salt sparingly, as many of the ingredients are naturally salty.
- Ready In:
- 1hr 10mins
- 1 large mediterranean-style bread, fat and long, about 14-inch /36cm long
- 1⁄2 cup soft butter, for spreading
- 3 -4 bell peppers, preferably in different colours
- 3⁄4 cup thin shavings parmesan cheese
- 12 kalamata olives
- 1⁄2 lb feta cheese
- 2 large onions
- 6 garlic cloves (or more)
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley, preferably flat-leaf
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 1⁄2 lbs peeled fresh large shrimp
- 4 -6 large vine-ripened tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄3 teaspoon sugar
- 1⁄4 cup virgin olive oil
- 1⁄4 cup lime juice
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon mild table mustard
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- Begin preparations the day before.
- Heat oven to 350 deg F/180 deg Celsius.
- Carefully cut off the top of the bread, in the shape of a lid. Hollow out the bread until you have a crust left which is about 1"/2 cm thick. Spread the lid and inside with the butter: use a barbecue brush for ease. Bake the bread, open, for about 10 minutes or until crisp but not too brown or brittle.
- Scorch the peppers under a grill or over a flame, steam in a bowl, and remove the thin skins. Cut into strips, removing seeds and ribs. Dry well between kitchen paper.
- Shave off enough parmesan to make about 3/4 cup.
- Remove the stones from the olives and chop roughly. If the feta is in brine, dry well. Slice; don't worry if it breaks up. Keep in a bowl.
- Peel the onions, cut into fairly thick rings, and boil for a few minutes in water until they are limp. Drain; dry on kitchen paper.
- Peel, crush and chop the garlic with a pinch of salt, chop the parsley until you have about a cupful, and chop the basil.
- Thinly peel the tomatoes, slice off the tops (keep that) and press out the liquid firmly. Slice, and leave on kitchen paper to drain well.
- Boil the shrimps very briefly in a little salted water, just until the curl up and go pinkish. They must be juicy still. Also drain them well, and pat dry with kitchen paper.
- By now the bread has cooled: try and judge the capacity, and simply use as much of each ingredient as the bread will hold. It must eventually be full to overflowing!
- Lay the pepper strips on the bottom, 1 - 2 layers. Layer with the parmesan shavings. Sprinkle with half the parsley. Top with the chopped olives. Add half the prepared garlic. Sprinkle or layer the feta over that. (Use the flat of your hand to press down the ingredients). Layer the drained and dried onion rings over the cheese. Pack the shrimps neatly over the onions, and salt lightly. Sprinkle over the rest of the garlic. Press flat again. Layer this with the tomato slices and sprinkle about 1/3 teaspoon sugar and a pinch of salt over the tomatoes. Sprinkle over the rest of the parsley as well as the chopped basil.
- Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing until emulsified. Keep covered in fridge: you'll need to shake or whisk it again before use.
- Now you need a weight about the size of the filling, to weigh it down. I use an ordinary, washed brick, covered in a double thickness of foil. Put the filled bread on a suitable dish, and put the brick on top of the filling.If you have any other suitable weight, use that. Cover lightly with plastic and refrigerate overnight. (Keep the bread "lid" in your breadbin).
- Remove brick and carefully put the filled bread on a platter. Whisk the dressing, and taste for seasoning! Adjust. The filling should now be firm and flattened. Top with the bread lid. Slice thickly, and serve each slice on its side. Drizzle a little of the dressing over each serving. Serve as a starter, with chilled white wine, or as a light meal.