Meatless Muffulettas

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Well, it seems that Mother Nature did get my memo that it is now officially spring! The weather has warmed up a little, and we’ve had a slew of gorgeous days. Today is chilly but breezy and beautiful blue skies all around. Hooray! Thank you Mother Nature!

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I think one of the reasons I love spring so much (aside from obvious reasons we all share) is that I met my husband during the spring. It was March, 2003, and I still lived in Texas, where the month of March is just beyond gorgeous and so, so pleasant. So now spring gives me a warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feeling, kind of like when you hear a certain song that reminds you of a past great memory. The song comes on, and unexpectedly you’re transported to reliving that time or specific memory. Well, gorgeous spring days remind me of meeting Matt.

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As I’ve mentioned before, we met in most random fashion, on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. And no, neither of us lived in New Orleans at the time. I won’t say it was love at first sight (not sure I believe in such a concept), but there was an immediate connection and attraction, the likes of which I’d never before experienced. We spent two evenings together, then my friend exchanged our phone numbers and email addresses for us. Upon leaving New Orleans, I was sure I’d never hear from him ever again. I mean, he lived 2,000 miles away from me. It made me kind of sad,  but I figured best to just accept it and move on.

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When I got home, I sent him a brief email, thinking that endeavor would turn out to be little more than 15 minutes I’d never get back, but I was wrong. He phoned me a few days later, and we spent about an hour talking. A few days later he emailed me, so I wrote back. A few days after that he called me, and before I knew it we were corresponding daily by email and weekly by phone.

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A couple months later, he uttered six of the sweetest words ever: “I want to see you again.” So we met up in New York, each of us having absolutely no clue we’d be living there together someday. Perhaps it was a sign…

And the rest, as they say, is history! The following spring we got engaged, and thirteen months later we married. The entire thing was completely unexpected and really turned my world upside down. To say I went on a road trip to New Orleans in spring of 2003 with one of my girl friends not really expecting to meet the love of my life is a gargantuan understatement. But that’s exactly what happened, and ten years later, I couldn’t be happier about it!

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I made this wonderful NOLA classic sandwich shortly after returning from our anniversary trip. Of course, traditional muffulettas are packed with deli meats; but I decided to make a vegetarian version. Matt and I are eating less meat these days, so this fit our lifestyle a little better. And it is still delicious! Matt gave it the highest compliment when he took a bite and said, “Wow. I almost don’t miss the meat at all!” Which, trust me, coming from him is very high praise…

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Source: adapted from Cook Without a Book: Meatless Meals by Pam Anderson

Ingredients:
2 medium garlic cloves
¼ cup drained capers
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 cup drained pimiento-stuffed green olives
2 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tsp dried oregano
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped celery hearts
4 soft Kaiser rolls, split and hollowed out in the center
4 deli thin slices Monterey jack cheese
4 deli thin slices provolone cheese
4 deli thin slices Swiss cheese
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and halved
¾ cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, halved

Directions:
First, make the olive spread. Mince the garlic cloves in a food processor. Add the capers and pulse to chop. Add the olives, vinegar, and oregano. Pulse to chop again. Add the olive oil and celery and pulse again to mix everything together. You want it to have the texture of a slightly chunky paste. Set aside.
Make the sandwiches by spreading 2 tablespoons of the olive spread on each half of each roll. Divide the cheese evenly among the sandwiches. On top of the cheeses, arrange a portion of the artichokes and tomatoes. Top with the roll tops, cut in half and serve. This makes 4 large sandwiches.

6 responses to “Meatless Muffulettas

  1. Julie,

    Although I do enjoy the occasional Muffuletta, ingesting all that processed sandwich meat is a concern. The thought of a meatless Muffuletta had never occurred to me. Everything else is there plus some nice artichoke hearts. I’m wondering if a grilled portobello mushroom would add the missing “meaty” factor to the sandwich? This may be next week’s project. Thanks for the idea. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    • Texan New Yorker

      Hi Patricia! I think a grilled portobello would be a fine addition to a meatless muffuletta, that’s a great idea! I really loved this one, and yes, I’ve had plenty of meat filled muffulettas. I didn’t miss the meat at all. What really makes a muffuletta is the olive spread, and that is still there. Let me know how your sandwich turns out. Thanks!

  2. Awww, Julie, how sweet your story is!

    The sandwich looks pretty tasty, too.

    Thanks for bringing a smile to my face today.

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