Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vegetarian Roasted Red Pepper + Olive Muffuletta

I've visited New Orleans more than any other city. I really love that place! Every time I go, I have to grab a muffuletta (or three). Many people argue over who makes the best one --Central Grocery? Frank's? -- but really, they are all delicious. What's not to love when there's light bread, meaty olive dressing, spicy creole mustard, and melty cheese...

Before you make this classic sandwich, be sure to visit the olive bar at almost any specialty store. It's best to select a mix of many different kinds of olives in order to add to the complexity of the dish. In addition, be sure to grab plenty from the spicy bin to give your olive dressing some kick. I like to use fresh cauliflower and carrots in place of pickled ones. This cuts down on the salt in the dish and makes it more enjoyable, in my opinion. This is a great dish to make for a party.

(Know that the muffuletta bread may be tough to find outside of the South; if it isn't available at your local deli, just use a light focaccia bread in its place.)

Vegetarian Roasted Red Pepper + Olive Muffuletta
(serves 8)

3 cups spicy, pitted olives (green, black, and kalamta)
2 stalks of celery (about 1 cup, sliced)
2 cups thinly sliced cauliflower
1 large carrot (about 1 cup sliced)
2 teaspoons good Italian seasoning mix (such as Penzey’s brand)
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 cup olive oil
1 cup white vinegar
2 10-inch muffeletta breads
2 tablespoon mayo
4 tablespoons creole mustard
4 roasted red peppers (fresh or from a jar)
14 ounces sliced cheese (provolone or Swiss)
Sliced tomatoes and chopped romaine lettuce (optional)
12 peperoncini peppers (on the side)

Using the slicer blade on your food processor, slice the olives, celery, cauliflower, and carrots. Place sliced vegetables into a 2-quart container; add the Italian seasoning mix, crushed garlic, olive oil, and vinegar. Allow mixture to marinate and the flavors to meld for a day or so --seriously! The longer you leave it, the better it will be.

Next, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Slice muffuletta breads in half. On the bottom half of each, spread half of the olive dressing. On the top slices, spread one tablespoon of mayo and two tablespoons of  creole mustard, and then add half the cheese on each in an even layer.
Place dressed bread open faced on a baking sheet in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove and add roasted red peppers, lettuce, and tomatoes to each sandwich. Place the top on each sandwich. Slice into quarters. Serve immediately.


  1. I really don't have any criticisms for this recipe at all. It was really delicious and easy to make.

    I had a hard time finding the muffuletta bread, so we got some extra to freeze. I think next time I try them (after using the real thing), I might use some good-quality sesame seed hamburger buns, so each person will have their own mini muffuletta. The muffuletta bread we ended up getting from La Baguette was probably 8" and we had about half of the olive dressing left. I don't consider this a problem at all, though. My friends and I were already planning good ways to use the leftover dressing. I didn't have a slicer blade for the food processor, so I just used the regular blade and pulsed and I liked the outcome.