Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mediterranean Pressed Cob Sandwich – Fun with Reference Materials

 Please welcome our guest Molly MacRae!

Mediterranean Pressed Cob Sandwich – Fun with Reference Materials

My son and I discovered a great sandwich that’s fun to make, especially for librarians – or for anyone who likes to press their food overnight under several volumes of an encyclopedia. And, really, who doesn’t?

When we found it, the recipe was called Mediterranean Layered Sandwich. Pfft. Any sandwich with more than one ingredient can be called “layered.” And this is not just a single-serving sandwich; this thing is large and strong and serves six people all by itself. It’s made with what the recipe calls a 9-inch cob loaf. That might have thrown us. Cob? Huh? But then we laughed – ha ha ha, we’re librarians! We could look it up! So we did and it turns out a cob is a round loaf of bread. Okay, that’s a fun thing to know, so why not put that in the recipe’s name, too? That makes it a point of conversation, almost exotic, and certainly more interesting than “layered.

So we renamed the sandwich, made it, and fell in love. The original the recipe, which you’ll find below, calls for pesto spread around the inside of your hollowed out cob. It’s delicious that way, but we’ve also made it spread with caramelized red onion (to which I added a bit of balsamic vinegar) and with kousa mabshoura (which is a fabulous spread made with zucchini like you’ve never had zucchini before.) You can find a recipe for kousa mabshoura (and other uses for it) in a post I did on Amy Alessio’s Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts blog. 

We also vary the layers. Grilled or roasted carrots are a nice addition. Portabello mushrooms would be wonderful. As for the ricotta? It was okay but didn’t add anything special. We used it the first time and haven’t bothered since. Sometime I’ll try another cheese. Gruyere, maybe, or sharp cheddar or a good goat cheese. Fontina! And maybe a layer of spinach? Roasted garlic? The possibilities are endless and mouth-watering to contemplate.

So then we come to the pressing. Fun! The cookbook says to use heavy food cans to slowly squash the cob overnight. We don’t have heavy cans in our cupboard or many cans at all. What we do have is a set of 1988 World Book Encyclopedias which I’ve been meaning to get rid of. But am I ever glad I didn’t! You can probably substitute another edition or maybe another encyclopedia set altogether, but we’ve found that three volumes of the World Book 1988 do the perfect pressing job.

My review of this recipe? VDS – Very Darn Satisfying because it involves reference tools doing what they do best – feeding our hunger for knowledge while feeding our hungry bodies with a truly delicious sandwich.

Mediterranean Pressed Cob Sandwich

1 9-inch round bread loaf (called a cob in Britain and Australia)
6 oz. Pesto
2 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound total) cut lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
1 small eggplant cut lengthwise into ½-inch slices
3 small zucchini cut lengthwise into ½-inch slices
2 red bell peppers  
7 oz. ricotta cheese
⅓ c. grated Parmesan cheese
⅓ c. olive oil
Special equipment: bread knife, spoon, plastic wrap, 3 volumes of your favorite encyclopedia, 2 cookie sheets or 2 large plates

1.     Quarter the peppers, remove the ribs and seeds, and stem. Cook under broiler until skin is blisters and blackens. Cool in paper bag, then peel. Brush the eggplant, sweet potato, and zucchini with the olive oil and broil, grill until tender and browned.
2.     Cut the lid from the loaf of bread as though you were cutting the lid from a pumpkin. Using the spoon and your hands, scoop the soft bread from the inside of the loaf, leaving a ½-inch shell. Save the removed bread for another use. Bread pudding sounds good. Mmm, with chocolate chips. Brush the inside and the lid with the pesto. Layer in the zucchini and peppers, sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano and thyme, then spread with the ricotta and Parmesan. Layer in the sweet potato and the eggplant and sprinkle with more of the seasonings as desired. Replace the lid.
3.     Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and place on a plate or cookie sheet. Put another plate or cookie sheet on top of the loaf. Put this stack in refrigerator and balance three encyclopedia volumes on the top cookie sheet. Refrigerate overnight.
4.     Preheat oven to 500º F. Remove the plastic wrap, then bake for 10 minutes, or until crispy. Cut into wedges and serve.

Encyclopedias for pressing the sandwich!

Make space in the fridge for your sandwich to press overnight!
The yummy finished product!

Molly MacRae is the author of the Haunted Yarn Shop mysteries from NAL/Obsidian (Penguin Group.) Last Wool and Testament, first in the series, is available in mass market, e-book, and audio book. Dyeing Wishes, second in the series, comes out in July 2013.

Molly blogs is a regular contributor on Killer Characters and Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts. You can connect with Molly on Facebook and Pinterest.


  1. Molly this is a hysterical recipe--thanks for the laugh first thing in the morning! Imagine what your house guests think when they open the refrigerator and find a stack of encyclopedias:).

  2. Especially if you don't explain or give them a blank look and say, "sorry, what?"

  3. Yes, love the encyclopedia press! Hmm...I have a great small antique apple press that would be about the right size (for a smallish loaf). Won't fit in the refrigerator, though, but in winter I'll just put it outside overnight.

  4. Well HELLO MOLLY!

    FINALLY a use for my encyclopedias I have moved from house to house since my Mother told me I had to have them (as she was downsizing to a smaller space). So useful pre-google, so worthlessly heavy afterwards.

    But I digress

    It's that olive oil soaking into the bread before it's toasted that really appeals to me... And a sandwich as a meal for 4 what could be better

    VDS indeed...

    And a haunted yarn shop... I am having nightmares already, best of luck on the new release. Thanks for the Pinterest link BTW, Just started following you, love this recipe.


    1. Olive oil is great stuff, Dave. Thanks for finding me on Pinterest!

  5. This looks soooo good! Like a panini on steroids. It would be perfect to take to a party, too. Thanks for a good laugh and a great recipe!

  6. Welcome, Molly! This reminds me of a muffuletta sandwich (courtesy of NOLA's Italian immigrants). They also serve it in quarters and halves, although there's no pressing involved, at least not with a stack of World Book encyclopedias, and where's the fun in that? ~ Cleo

    1. It is similar to a muffuletta, Cleo, without the olive salad. I have another sandwich recipe - Superheroes - that has a great olive salad garnish. Maybe I should try combining the two!

  7. Thanks for the laughs, Molly! I think we have some some encyclopedia volumes stashed somewhere. Who thought they'd ever be useful again? There's an idea for a book -- 101 uses for an encyclopedia! The sandwich sounds terrific. I love it as an alternative to a sub for a picnic.

    ~ Krista

  8. Great idea for a book, Krista. Maybe you can get the Domestic Diva to look into it!

  9. Molly, welcome to MLK. What a great looking sandwich. And love your cover and title. Very cute! What's not to like about ghosts and a pawn shop?

    Krista, love the encyclopedia idea! LOL



    1. Ooops. Yarn shop. Fast fingers (and not good re-reading)!


    2. A ghost in a pawn shop, though, Avery - that has possibilities, don't you think? Think of who the ghost might be. Hmm, maybe a short story in that, if nothing else.

  10. Well, you hooked this librarian, Molly! Can't wait to try it. The only hitch is that my hubby is always looking for new places for books. He hasn't considered the fridge but he might after this!

    Welcome and thanks for the terrific recipe and the chuckle.

    1. Mary Jane! Dictionaries with the dill pickles, romance with the romaine - we've started a trend!

  11. Thank you all for having me here today. It's been a pleasure. I've long been an admirer and drooler of Mystery Lovers' Kitchen.