Depending on where you are in the world, dinner parties may or may not be back on the menu. In my corner of the world, they very much are. And while I’m excited by this development, I am also trepidatious. It’s not that I’m all that worried about the COVID of it all. I am lucky enough to be fully vaccinated as are most of my friends at this point. It’s more that I feel like I’ve forgotten how to human. So I’ve been keeping my gatherings small and my menus simple. So today, I’m bringing you one such menu item – this Mortadella Pesto Melt.
What I love about this Mortadella Pesto Melt is its simple preparation and visual impact. It just looks abundant, it looks like a party. And you get the equivalent of 4-6 sandwiches in the time it takes to prep one. Plus, if you’re into a little dinner table theatrics, this is a fun dish to saw into in front of your guests. The interior of the sandwich should elicit its fair share of oohs and ahhs.
It’s simple to round out this meal as well. As I mention in the video below, you can keep the sides for this Mortadella Pesto Melt blissfully simple. A few simple but refreshing salads here, a bag of chips, and some dip there. You can cap things off with a round of homemade cookies and ice cream. Hey, there’s a reason Subway offers a choice of chips or cookies with every sandwich, the formula works.
But let’s talk about the sandwich itself. This Mortadella Pesto Melt features homemade sunflower seed pesto, high-quality mortadella, roasted wild mushrooms, provolone, and pecorino. From here the sandwich goes into the oven to get all melty. When the cheese is melty, top the sandwich with arugula, Calabrian chilis, olives, red onion, and cucumbers. Once the sandwich is built, I think you’ll find it requires a few cocktail skewers to maintain its form. This is a truly epic sandwich if there ever was one.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Mortadella Pesto Melt. Such a delicious and fun way to delight your dinner guests. And a simple way to ease yourself back into the world of dinner parties.
Mortadella Pesto Melt with Sunflower Seed Pesto
- Food Processor
- Small Baking Sheet
- Large baking sheet
Sunflower Seed Pesto
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 1/2 cup roasted salted sunflower seeds
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves tightly packed
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ lemon juiced
- ½ cup pecorino shredded
Mortadella Pesto Melt
- 100g (3.5 oz) wild mushroom mix
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 loaf ciabatta** cut in half
- 1 batch sunflower seed pesto see above
- 180g (6.5oz) mortadella
- 175g (6oz) provolone thinly sliced
- ½ cup pecorino shredded
- 1 ½ cups baby arugula tightly packed
- 4 Calabrian chilis packed in oil chopped
- ⅓ cup mix of pitted olives
- ¼ red onion thinly sliced
- 1 mini cucumber sliced thin on a mandolin
- fresh ground pepper
- 4-5 cocktail picks for serving
For the Pesto
- Place the garlic in a large food processor. Add the sunflower seeds, basil leaves, and kosher salt. Blitz until a paste begins to form.
- With the food processor running, stream in the olive oil and the lemon juice. Blitz until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and fold in the shredded pecorino. Transfer the pesto to the fridge and chill until you’re ready to start building your sandwich. The pesto can be made well in advance and leftovers keep for 1 week sealed in the fridge.
For the Melt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside. Place the mushrooms in a large bowl and add the olive oil. Sprinkle the mushrooms with the salt and add the crushed red pepper flakes, toss to coat. Pour the dressed mushrooms onto the baking sheet and set them aside.
- Line a larger baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside as well. Arrange the bread on the large baking sheet cut-side-up. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the pesto on each half. Using a knife or an offset spatula, spread the pesto across both halves to ensure the pesto is evenly distributed.
- Place the bread and the mushrooms in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes are up take the mushrooms and bread out of the oven. Set the mushrooms aside and take the top half of the loaf off of its baking sheet and set it aside as well.
- Place the mortadella slices on top of the bottom half of the bread. Top the mortadella with the provolone and place the mushrooms on top. Finish with a healthy sprinkling of pecorino. Return the bottom half of the bread to the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- When the 10 minutes are up, take the bread out of the oven and top with the baby arugula. Topped the arugula with Calabrian chilis, followed by a mix of pitted olives, red onions, and finally cucumber. Finish the sandwich off with fresh ground pepper and placed the top half, well, on top.
- Transfer the sandwich to a large cutting board and secure with 4 or 5 cocktail skewers. You can either slice and serve or serve whole and slice into it with an audience.