Sunday, May 25, 2008

just try and bite this gigantic muffuletta without making a mess

i am not kidding you, this sandwich is gigantic and messy and so delicious. and as i've said 800 billion times in the last two weeks, vegetables are so in this season. when i saw in my now treasured june/july 08 rr magazine this recipe for a vegetarian muffuletta, i went out and secured all of the ingredients posthaste. i knew i'd like it: grilled veggies, bread, olives. i think i was meant to be french. or greek? i don't know...but i could do the whole eating bread dipped in olive oil, with a side of cheese and olives. whoever does that all day, everyday - that's who i want to be.

but not to sidetrack here. husband and i loved this sandwich. i know, because after consuming the leftovers the next day, i received an email from him: "i could eat one of these everyday". before we move to the recipe, my two tips: don't skimp on any of the ingredients because they are all important and try to do as rr says and put everything in a big bread bowl..not these individual things i used. i'm thinking they might be a little easier to eat. maybe not, but worth a try...unless you don't mind having your entire face covered in pesto.

spinach pesto and spicy vegetable & olive salad

this is what it all started with. i saw "olives and marinated vegetables" in the recipe and i was sold. cheers to husband for whipping these two toppings up...even if i did have to explain how to use the food processor. twice.

veggies grilling and the start of the end: the hollowed bread slice

this is before it got serious. everything seemed so simple, so easy. my hands (nay, forearms) were still clean.

grilled vegetable muffuletta (rr june/july 08)
1 eggplant, sliced 1/2 in thick
1 zucchini, sliced 1/2 in thick on an angle
1 red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise
1 large portobello mushroom cap
1 red onion, sliced 3/4 inch thick
salt and pepper
1/2 c olive oil
6 ounces baby spinach
1/3 c pine nuts
2/3 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1 cup pickled vegetable salad
1/2 cup pitted olives
1 8-9 in round loaf crusty bread
1/4 lb sliced provolone cheese

1. brush the first five vegetable ingredients with 1/4 c olive oil and salt & pepper
2. grill veggies over medium-high heat until charred on both sides, turning once
3. in a food processor, puree spinach, pine nuts and parm-reg cheese, season with salt and pepper
4. drizzle with 1/4 c olive oil while machine is running and transfer to a bowl when combined
5. in a food processor, pulse the pickled vegetables and the olives into a coarse relish salad
6. slice the top quarter off of the bread and scoop out the insides
7. spread the half the pesto on the bottom and layer with half the grilled vegetables
8. repeat with another layer of veggies and pesto 
9. top the grilled vegetables with provolone and the olive & vegetable  salad
10. set the top of the bread in place and firmly press down; cut into wedges to serve

**obviously, I did not make the whole bowl and chose to do this my own crazy way. if you're serving 4 or so, the bread bowl is probably a good way to go. anyway, my point is: my pictures do not follow the instructions above. 

a sequence of ridiculous assembly photos - totally out of control

it was at about the photo on the bottom left that i started to wonder how i would ever be able to eat this. i continued to shove more grilled vegetables into the bread crescent and knew i would need 10-12 napkins for this one meal. husband, on the other hand, was not concerned. bigger hands? bigger mouth? i'm not sure, but he was ready for it.

the final touch - trying to fit olive & veggie salad onto this overloaded sandwich

it really isn't a muffuletta without the olive salad. it's true. i looked it up. that's what this baby is all about. so if you don't like olives and you've made it this far thinking you could go without: you're wrong. probably could make this sans olive salad, but don't you dare run around calling it a muffuletta.

i'm not sure why this last photo has such a yellow tint.

and there you have it! with all of these goodies, you won't miss the missing meat and you'll be sure to have a great time trying to figure out how to open your mouth wide enough and bite down just right so as not to push all of the fillings out the other side. good luck!