I’ve never been to New Orleans where this sandwich was made famous, but I can understand what all the fuss is about! Whether you make your version of the muffuletta sandwich in the traditional style, loaded with meat – capicola, salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, and the like – or you prefer a meatless option like this recipe for Eggplant Muffuletta Sandwiches, the one thing you can’t leave out is the olive salad.
As soon as I bit into this sandwich I was reminded of some of the sandwiches my dad and uncles ate for lunch. Landscapers work up quite an appetite, and for my dad, a PB & J wouldn’t cut it halfway through the workday. Instead, he would eat sandwiches made using thick slices of home baked bread, piled with a variety of cured meat, cheese, pickled peppers, olives, or just about any other type of vegetable. His sandwiches were hearty, delicious, and similar to a muffuletta sandwich.
This is anything but a dainty sandwich, so it makes sense that this deli-style delight was made popular by Italian immigrant workers in New Orleans. I made this version without the meat, and added lightly fried eggplant slices instead.
Seriously stacked, one of the best things about this (messy) sandwich is the olive salad that frames the eggplant and cheese. It’s made using two types of olives and hot-flavored giardiniera, among other goodies. Giardiniera is a mix of chopped, pickled veggies like carrots, peppers, cauliflower, and celery, packed in seasoned oil. The thick sandwich rolls easily soak up the oil and tangy flavors of the salty olive salad.
Be sure to have a bunch of napkins on hand when you set out to enjoy Eggplant Muffuletta Sandwiches. You’ll need them, but it will be worth it! Consider this recipe to make a great meal on a Meatless Monday!