This week, I aimed for simple for lunch and came up with this recipe for a vegetarian muffuletta sandwich. You might ask, why the search for simplicity this week? My answer – I worked for over twelve hours over two days trying to tame blackberry bushes, passion flower vines, trumpet vines, and bamboo, all of which were happily taking over our house in Southern Oregon that we are trying to sell. I’m rapidly learning, however, that no one wants to buy a house that looks like Sleeping Beauty might be in residence underneath all the thorny bushes.
I actually started out the weekend with a full six days of vacation time (including the weekend and Labor Day). I had lovely plans – outings in Portland most of which would have revolved around food: a full day hanging out at Fubon (one of the many Asian markets in Southeast Portland), eating my way through the Pearl District, food cart pods… And then adulthood set in and we realized that this was a great weekend to spend chopping down bushes and pulling weeds.
After three days of fast food and restaurant food, I was ready to get home, make a salad for dinner, and create something relatively healthy to enjoy for lunch. The vegetarian muffuletta sandwich was perfect for this, especially accompanied by a quick spinach salad with a few radishes sliced on top. I was also even finally at a place today where I could lift my arms to eat my sandwich without everything hurting. (Have I mentioned that blackberry bushes fight back?).
Meaty eggplant is the star in this sandwich and takes the place of the meats that would usually be in this sandwich. A traditional muffuletta is served on a specific kind of bread, which I didn’t have access to, so ciabatta bread had to do. I made my own olive salad and used capers to bring out some of the pickled tanginess. I also made use of some canned red peppers from last year’s canning season to add a little more vinegar and some texture. The ciabatta held its shape, even after the sandwich sat all night in the fridge, making this a great make-ahead lunch.
Vegetarian Muffuletta Sandwich
1 can pitted black olives
1 can pitted green olives
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 eggplant, sliced into ½ inch thick slices
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 roasted red peppers
4 slices provolone cheese
1 loaf ciabatta bread or similar
Preparing the Olive Salad
Chop the olives into a fine dice. Put them in a bowl and mix in the capers, parsley and olive oil. Set aside.
Preparing the Eggplant
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the eggplant slices on the baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle each with about ½ teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle each slice with a bit of salt (1/4 teaspoon at the most per slice). Roast for 10 minutes and then flip the eggplant. Return to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes or until the eggplant is very wrinkled and slightly brown.
Assemble the Sandwiches
Slice the ciabatta into four sections. Slice each section in half. Divide the olive salad over each slice of bread. Layer the eggplant, provolone cheese, and roasted red pepper. Enjoy