The time is now for picnics! Here in Kansas City, spring is beautiful. Since I can now buy excellent tomatoes in the supermarket, I’m sharing my favorite picnic sandwich with you even if our planted tomatoes won’t be available for a bit.
The traditional Caprese salad serves as the basis for this sandwich’s preparation. It has fresh mozzarella slices, luscious red tomatoes, and the most delicious creamy basil sauce. I also included a small amount of arugula and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for flavor.
All of these may be stuffed inside a crusty French baguette to create a sandwich that is ideal for road trips or picnics. Or, from now until the end of tomato season this fall, eat it at home as a simple lunch.
Despite being vegetarian, this tomato and mozzarella sandwich packs a surprising amount of protein thanks to the cheese. I recreated my favorite sandwich from our neighborhood French café using this recipe. I’m happy that I can either buy it there or cook one at home because they recently reintroduced it back on the menu. You may now, too.
Sandwich Caprese Ingredients
Just keep in mind that the sandwich will be nicer if the bread and tomatoes are good. What you’ll need is as follows:
For this sandwich, a French baguette works best, but you can also use any other fine bread you currently have.
homemade cream sauce with basil
This sauce is going to win you over! It comes together quickly in a food processor or, if you prefer, by hand. Mayonnaise, fresh basil, garlic, salt, and pepper are required. A wonderful vegetable dip is made from leftover sauce.
Balsamic Vinegar, Thick
The creamy texture of the sauce and the mozzarella is contrasted in an enticing way by the tangy balsamic vinegar. Here, a thick balsamic vinegar is required (the regular runny kind will make your sandwich wet).
Be sure to purchase the bottle marked “25 stars” if you want the Grand Reserve Balsamic Vinegar from Napa Valley Naturals, which I like. It costs less than $10 and is frequently offered in Natural Grocers and other stocked grocery stores. You may also make your own balsamic glaze by gently cooking runny vinegar on the stovetop until it is reduced by half, or you can purchase balsamic glaze (DeLallo produces one).
Arugula Arugula has a little crunch and a flavorful, spicy freshness. I adore it, but if you don’t, you may skip it.
Use one mozzarella ball rather than the part-skim mozzarella block you typically buy for pizza. Choose a mozzarella ball that is packed in water rather than one that is vacuum-sealed for the tastiest experience.
Look for medium-sized, juicy, red tomatoes in particular. In this sandwich, they will truly stand out.
Two large or 4 smaller sandwiches
1 baguette (16 ounces)
1 tablespoon thick balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze*
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups baby arugula
1 mozzarella ball (8 ounces)
2 medium ripe tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
Flaky sea salt or kosher salt
Creamy basil sauce (this makes extra**)
1 small or ½ medium clove garlic, roughly chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup (1 ounce) lightly packed fresh basil
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Also read: How to Grill Pizza
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the bread in half lengthwise, then stack it back together and slice it down the middle to form two large sandwiches, or again to make 4 small. Place the sliced bread on a baking sheet with the cut sides facing up. Bake for 5 minutes, or until warmed through and turning lightly golden around the edges.
In the meantime, prepare the creamy basil sauce*: In a food processor, blitz the roughly chopped garlic to chop it more finely. Scrape down the sides, then add the mayo, basil, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, then set aside.
To assemble the sandwiches, lightly drizzle balsamic and olive oil over half of the cut sides of bread. Layer some arugula on top, then weigh it down with rounds of mozzarella. Top with the sliced tomato, then sprinkle the tomato lightly with flaky salt.
Spread the basil sauce generously over the cut side of the remaining slices of bread. Place them face down over the tomatoes. Enjoy.