This recipe came to me through my sister who made it (to rave reviews) for a party this past 4th of July.
She got it from a great vegan blog called Have Recipes, Will Cook, who got it from Emeril Lagasse, who got it from a long line of revered New Orleans sandwich makers originating at the Central Grocery in Louisiana, who, I am assuming, got the idea from their Spanish, Cuban, French and African ancestors.
According to Marie Lupo Tusa, daughter of the Central Grocery’s founder, it was born when Sicilian farmers selling their produce at the nearby Farmers’ Market would come into her father’s grocery for lunch and order some salami, ham, cheese, olive salad, and either long braided Italian bread or a round muffuletta loaf. In typical Sicilian fashion they ate everything separately sitting on crates or barrels while precariously balancing their meals on their knees. Her father suggested cutting the bread and putting everything on it like a sandwich, even if it was not typical Sicilian fashion. The thicker braided Italian bread proved too hard to bite and the softer round muffuletta loaf won out. Shortly thereafter, farmers that came for lunch began merely asking for ‘muffulettas.'”
What’s better than a sandwich with some serious history? A vegan sandwich that can enchant the masses.
As my sister reported, not only was her party sized vegan muffuletta a big hit, even our dad—a dedicated carnivore—helped himself to two big hunks.
Here’s how she did it.
Vegan Muffuletta Sandwich
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
1 cup sliced pimento-stuffed olives, plus 2 tablespoons of liquid from the jar
1 cup chopped giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables), plus 1 tablespoon of liquid from the jar
2 tablespoons drained chopped capers, plus 2 teaspoons of liquid from the jar
½ cup sliced Calamata olives
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of red pepper flakes
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large round loaf of sourdough bread (I used a green olive loaf)
2 small Italian eggplants, sliced ½ inch thick
1 medium zucchini, sliced ½ inch thick
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and quartered
1 red onion, sliced ½ inch thick
½ teaspoon Italian Seasoning
freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, stir together the pimento-stuffed olives, giardiniera, capers and their respective liquids. Add the Calamata olives, garlic, shallot, parsley, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes. Stir in the olive oil and let the mixture stand for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the eggplant, zucchini, red onion and red pepper on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Bake until the vegetables are lightly browned and softened. The zucchini and eggplant take 10 to 15 minutes, and the onion and pepper take 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the vegetables to a plate when done, and let cool.
Slice the loaf of bread in half, and hollow out the top and the bottom slightly to allow for the olive salad. Spoon the olive salad on both sides of the bread evenly. Place the red peppers on the top layer over the olive salad. Arrange the red onion, zucchini and eggplant on the olive salad on the bottom layer. Carefully close the sandwich. Wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap and let stand for 30 minutes or up to two hours. Cut the sandwich into wedges and serve.
Author: Erica Leibrandt
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Matt Howry/Flickr