Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Very Vegan Christmas: Muffalettas

For lunch on Christmas Eve we decided to go with the ultimate New Orleans sandwich. No, not the po-boy, but the vinegar filled olive showcase known as the muffaletta. The muffaletta is essentially the world's greatest Italian sandwich (a debatable point given Bay Cities' Godmother) topped off with the world’s most perfect olive salad. This was truly going to be a test of our vegan options if we were even going to come close to replicating this sandwich masterpiece.

The Veggie Muffaletta
Adapted from NolaCuisine.com
Servings: One comically large sandwich
Time: 24 1/2 hours (24 inactive)

1 1/2 cups green olives with pimento, minced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and minced
1 cup gardiniera, chopped
1 tbsp capers
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp green onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Daiya Vegan cheese
Italian Bread
Vegan Turkey (The Tofurkey brand has good fake deli meats)
Vegan Ham
Vegan Salami
Vegan Pepperoni

The delicious dichotomy of the muffaletta

  1. Combine the olives, gardiniera, capers, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, green onion, red wine vinegar and olive oil together in a ziploc bag and mix well. Let refrigerate for at least one day.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350.
  3. Top half of the bread with the daiya cheese and vegan meats then heat in the oven for about 15 minutes until the bread becomes crisp and the cheese begins to melt.
  4. Top with the cold olive salad and cut the sandwich into quarters.
  5. Cover your shirt in juice from the olive salad before realizing you need to eat over your plate.

It looks a little like Jabba the Hut to me.
The olive salad could’ve been ingested by the spoonful on its own, but it really shined as the MVP of the sandwich as it formed a seamless link between the “meat” and crunchy bread (special shout out to the gardiniera). Most of the recipes we saw called for letting the flavors meld for a week, but I think a day was the perfect amount of time. Everything in the olive salad came together nicely without becoming soggy or overly potent like would've been the case with extended time. We also cut back on the olive oil which helped propel the vinegar and kept things from getting too greasy.
The suggested serving size to ensure your stomach doesn't burst.
The only downside was remembering that we had to save room for dinner later. Seriously, this is a dish you could give to even the most skilled sandwich connoisseur, and they would have no clue it was vegan. They’d be too busy making sure they didn't choke on the giant chunk of deliciousness they just inhaled to notice. Our Christmas eve was definitely off to the right nap-inducing start after this masterful lunch. Now we just had to fight the urge to eat the remaining piece of muffaletta since our cooking extravaganza was only just beginning.

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