A crowded cooler or picnic basket won’t cramp the style of this hearty make-ahead sandwich. It’s actually better when made a day ahead, so the vinaigrette has time to seep through and flavor the layers. Pack a cutting board to slice pieces wherever you end up lunching or slice ahead and wrap in parchment and twine for snacking any time of day.
1 large loaf ciabatta, sliced through the middle horizontally
4 tablespoons softened butter
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons warm water
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup prepared black olive paste, store-bought or homemade
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
½ cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
12 ounces assorted sliced Italian deli meats (such as sopressata, salami, capocollo and mortadella)
2 balls fresh mozzarella, sliced
A few handfuls arugula, rinsed and patted dry
1. Place bread cut side up on a cutting board and scoop out the bready center. Spread butter over each piece (The butter will help prevent moisture from getting into the bread).
2. In a medium bowl, combine Dijon and vinegar. Gradually whisk in oil, followed by water. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.
3. Spread olive paste on bottom crust, then add peppers. Top with the artichoke hearts. Drizzle with half of the vinaigrette.
4. Layer the meats over the vegetable mixture. Top with a layer of mozzarella, then the arugula. Drizzle with half of the remaining dressing, then drizzle the last bit of dressing over the top half of bread. Flip the bread over the sandwich.
5. Wrap each sandwich tightly with plastic wrap and place on a platter or baking sheet that will fit in the refrigerator. Place a heavy skillet on top of sandwiches to apply weight (if you don’t have a heavy skillet, top with another baking sheet and place some large cans on top for the weight). Refrigerate at least 6 hours or, ideally, overnight.
6. When ready to serve, remove from plastic wrap and slice into servings.