Meatless Mardi Gras Muffuletta Makeover!

Meatless Muffuletta

Yes, that adds up to “Mmmm”.

Mardi Gras is coming up next week (yes, already)!  I’ve loved New Orleans cuisine from the very first bite of gumbo I had. Truly, I can’t think of a dish I haven’t liked. So every year around Fat Tuesday, I like to take advantage of the excuse to revisit favorites – and try new experiments too.

This Cajun classic sandwich (famously originating at Central Grocery on New Orleans’ Dekatur Street) does unbelievably well with a vegan revamp. Normally it’s served with cold cuts and cheese as the center – but the olive salad, with extra time given for the delicious dressing to permeate the bread, is really the star. A perfect candidate for a Meatless Monday-style Makeover!

Let the record show: I had this muffuletta vetted by a Louisiana native – at her baby shower, no less! So rest assured that this is one solid variation. You can always make the olive salad days in advance, just allow for a few hours after assembling on the bread for the flavors to fully commingle.

VEGAN MUFFULETTA

2 large or 3 portobello mushroom caps, sliced ¼ inch thick
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon salt, divided
1 red bell pepper
1 cup kalamata olives, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons capers
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce
1 large baguette

Preheat oven to 425. Toss the mushroom slices in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Spread a piece of parchment or silicone baking mat over a baking sheet and place mushroom slices in a single layer. Roast for about 5 to 7 minutes, until tender and starting to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Roast the red pepper simply by holding them over a gas burner with tongs until skin is blackened. You can also do this by broiling it on the top rack of your oven; this will take about 5-10 minutes (do check frequently).

Once the skin is blackened, seal the pepper into into a ziploc bag and allow the heat to steam for a few minutes. The skin should then rub off easily. Allow to cool as you assemble the rest of the salad. Combine olives, celery, garlic and capers in a mixing bowl. Slowly stream olive oil into the red wine vinegar, whisking briskly. Stir in cayenne pepper sauce and salt, then pour over olive mixture and toss. Dice the cooled peppers and stir into olive salad. (Olive salad may be made a day or two ahead of time.)

Slice the baguette in half and then scoop out most of the softest inner bread. Spread the olive salad over both sides of the baguette, filling the channels you’ve scooped out. Lay the mushrooms over the salad and close the sandwich up. Press down on the top to condense the filling and bread. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Other muffulettae of note around the blogosphere:

A very authentic recipe from Nola Cuisine
Prosciutto-Wrapped Tuna Muffuletta from Lisa Is Cooking
Gluten-Free Muffuletta from Gluten A Go-Go
Makeshift Muffuletta from Tinkering With Dinner

— posted by Anne

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