The Airplane Sandwich

Pack the perfect picnic sammie for all your summer journeys.


One of my family’s favorite summer-time activities is going for a day hike. Back before we had a son, my husband and I would cover multiple miles. We’d finish up, tired and sweaty from the exercise with a fabulous picnic and cold beers we had tucked into the cooler. Today, our hikes are more of an exercise in patience due to the slow feet of our 4-year-old. I shuffle along behind my chatty boy as he swings sticks, examines bugs, leaves and flowers, narrating as he goes along. Don’t get me wrong, I love these moments together in the peaceful, shaded woods, but my longer legs yearn to stride up the hill and into the next gulley. I need something to keep me focused on the goal — lunch!

Enter the ultimate picnic sandwich. I perfected this sandwich many years ago while planning for a long airplane ride. Since then we always refer to this stuffed, portable, delicious sandwich as “the Airplane Sandwich.” Made ahead and layered with cheese, meats, roasted veggies, basil, tomatoes and olive oil, it only improves upon rest. Sliced into wedges it will happily feed a hungry family of 4-6 people (bigs and littles). A side of grapes and juice boxes (or maybe one of those cold beers!) and you are ready to go for any after-adventure summer meal.


Airplane Sandwich

Clearly, this is a flexible recipe. Go with your gut and you will be a happy hiker!

Pro tip: If you are a vegetarian, skip the meat and double the fresh mozzarella cheese.

1 large ciabatta loaf, preferably from Grand Central

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ pound of deli meats, such as prosciutto and salami, but turkey or ham would work, too

1 8-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced

10-15 basil leaves, left whole.

1 large tomato, sliced thinly

1 cup roasted veggies, such as zucchini and peppers

salt and pepper

  1. Slice the ciabatta loaf in half horizontally. Pull out some of the bread in the middle of the loaf (feed to child). This should give you two concave bread shells.
  2. Sprinkle bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  3. Layer meats equally on each half of the bread.
  4. Set aside the top half of the loaf. On the bottom half, cover the meat with cheese, basil and then veggies. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Put top on sandwich and squish firmly down. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap or a towel. It is best to let it rest a few hours in the refrigerator. Keep it in the fridge, then transfer to a cooler to take it along.
  6. Slice into wedges and enjoy!
Joanna Sooper
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