Liz Mervosh’s vegetarian take on muffulettas features garlicky roasted vegetables and a delicious tangy olive relish.

By Bridget Hallinan
August 12, 2020
Advertisement
Photo: Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners

Sandwiches are an ideal picnic food. They’re portable, satisfying, and low-maintenance, since they can be eaten straight from their wrappings and usually don’t require any utensils (although you might need a few napkins, for good measure). Gabriel Rucker’s ham-jam sandwiches and these pan bagnats are both perfect for eating outdoors, but this summer, we’ll also be reaching for these vegetarian muffulettas, a “meatless take on the classic New Orleans sandwich.”

The recipe comes from recipe tester and developer Liz Mervosh, who swaps out traditional Italian cold cuts for garlicky roasted eggplant, red bell peppers, and portobello mushroom caps. The vegetables are paired with a homemade olive relish and sharp provolone cheese, all piled together on seeded crusty rolls to create four serious sandwiches. They’re ready in just over an hour, too, but if you let them sit, they’ll be even better. Read on for some of Liz’s tips for making them.

Roast or Grill the Vegetables

Although the vegetables are oven-roasted in the recipe, Liz says you can also easily grill them. If you do decide to go the oven route, make sure you place the vegetables on wire racks set inside rimmed baking sheets—they’ll help the air circulate and boost browning on all sides as everything cooks.

Try These Handy Substitutions

When you’re making the garlic oil, Liz says you can try Calabrian chiles (usually packed in oil) in place of the crushed red pepper. Cured black olives can also be swapped in for green olives, and you can use ciabatta or focaccia bread if you can’t find seeded crusty rolls.

Use the Giardiniera and the Giardiniera Brine

In addition to using chopped giardiniera in the olive relish, you’ll be using three tablespoons of brine from the jar as well. Liz explains that it adds extra acidity and is a great shortcut, since it’s already seasoned.

Let the Sandwiches Stand

Although you can serve the sandwiches immediately after assembling, Liz recommends letting them stand for an hour so that the bread soaks up the liquid from the relish. For the “full New Orleans experience,” the recipe instructs you to wrap each sandwich individually in parchment paper, and then aluminum foil, and put them on a baking sheet. Take a second baking sheet and place it on top of the sandwiches with a heavy item on it (such as a brick or a cast-iron skillet), and again, let them stand for one hour.

Save That Leftover Olive Relish

The tangy olive relish isn’t just great on these sandwiches—you can also use it in bean or pasta salads, and try it on top of grilled or roasted fish. (You want one that’s lean, buttery, and rich, Liz says). She also recommends stirring it into cream cheese for a tasty bagel spread. It’s a great way to use up any extra relish you have and ensure nothing goes to waste.

Get the Recipe: Vegetarian Muffulettas