Cheesy Bread With Marinara
Soft, pillowy bread stuffed with melty mozzarella and dipped in a marinara sauce makes for an easy, crowd-pleasing appetizer or side dish. Here, store-bought sauce is doctored up with a few pantry staples, including dried oregano, garlic and red-pepper flakes, but you can use homemade sauce, too. Slice the bread or let everyone tear off pieces, like they would a fresh baguette, for a more spontaneous, cheese-pull moment. To round out the spread with something green, roast broccolini, broccoli or kale on a sheet pan in the oven as the bread cooks, then dip alongside. For a crunchier exterior, unwrap the bread and cook uncovered for the last 5 minutes.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1Italian loaf or rustic baguette
- 5tablespoons olive oil
- ½pound mozzarella, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- ¾teaspoon dried oregano
- 2large garlic cloves, grated or minced
- ½teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- 1 ¾cups marinara sauce
- ½teaspoon sherry vinegar (optional)
- 2tablespoons grated Parmesan
Step 1Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Halve the loaf lengthwise almost all the way through, leaving it attached on one side. Open it, lay it flat and brush the insides with 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil. Tuck in the mozzarella, then sprinkle with salt and ¼ teaspoon oregano. Close, then wrap tightly with foil. Place on a sheet pan, and bake for 20 minutes.
Step 2Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, garlic, remaining ½ teaspoon oregano and red-pepper flakes over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the marinara sauce and adjust the heat to bring it to a gentle boil, then stir in the sherry vinegar, if using. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bread is ready, about 15 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 3Transfer the sauce to a bowl or serve from the pan, and top with grated Parmesan. Slice the bread, or let everyone pull the pieces apart themselves. Keep wrapped until ready to eat.